Last Saturday evening my regional city was host to not one but two international fixtures of rugby – a true Southern-Hemisphere contest: New Zealand vs South Africa and Australia vs Argentina.
To my surprised delight a good friend of mine procured a ticket to accompany him and his lads to the ‘games’. What a wonderful evening of rugby and good cheer. It’s been twenty years since I’ve been to an international and certainly ten years since I took an active interest in the game. So many memories aroused, splendid beer consumed and a sharp reminder as to how much the rules and nature of the game have changed since I kicked a football around so many decades ago.
The only thing that hasn’t changed is that the most overworked man on the field was the referee, without whose services the entire shebang would have degenerated into chaos. Thinking about it I realised that his pivotal role served as a metaphor for much that is deficient in our society.
In an open society when men of good faith find themselves in discord and are unable to resolve the matter between themselves they, in good faith, submit to impartial arbitration.
Implicit in this mutual submission is the shared willingness to accept and abide by the arbiter’s decision. This dispute resolution process includes inter alia and applies equally to sport, business, legal disputes, criminal proceedings, politics and social issues.
In the open society, the ultimate arbiter of political discord has traditionally been the people participating in free and open elections. Sadly however, this traditional and time-honoured custom of accepting the ‘verdict of the people’ is rapidly being eroded.
Time and again in recent years we have been witness to activist political groups, whose policies are manifestly at odds with public opinion or have been rejected at the polls, continue to aggressively demand that their particular hobby-horse be accepted and given legal standing. Such insistent groups refuse to accept the arbiter’s decision, declaring it variously as being unfair or unrepresentative, discriminatory, ill-informed or just plain wrong. These activists consider that they personally are imbued with the ‘Truth’. To this end, they are right – you are wrong. They know. Period and Amen. End of discussion. It is as if they alone have been touched with a manner of ‘Divine Revelation’.
Now this is unnerving to the man of good faith. For him, the matter has been taken to the referee and a decision reached. As far as he is concerned the matter is settled and it is time to move on. But NO! The other team isn’t happy with the decision and vows to fight it further, and further and ever onwards until, out of sheer perseverance, they get want they want.
One doesn’t need to consider too deeply to identify innumerable examples of such activist intransigence in public affairs. Environmentalists and sexual misfits spring readily to mind. They are as a spoilt brat in the sweetie store “…I want…I want…I want…” until the exasperated mother finally caves in.
It is a dangerous trend symptomatic of fundamental failings in our society. It is, for example, a reflection of the increasingly self-centred nature of modern society. Life is all about me!
It is reflection of the legalistic and litigious nature of our society – “not happy with something, don’t accept the decision, go to court and have the verdict overturned”. Legal practitioners have much to answer for in this regard. The ‘no-win no-pay, class action and make the bastards pay’ mindset has done much harm to the fabric of our society. It panders to greed in the name of rightful compensation, it creates an environment in which everyone is scared of being sued, it creates social irresponsibility inasmuch everything is someone else’s fault and, significantly, the increasingly accepted assumption that the referee can always be overruled actively serves to the detriment of good faith and social cohesion. Such a worldview undermines faith in our institutions, our businesses, traditions and indeed, in each other.
Those social and political activists who claim correct consciousness are particularly dangerous because there is no reasoning with them. If you disagree with them you are automatically wrong – you are possessed with false consciousness and need to be ‘corrected’. In such a scenario the man of good faith has not a chance. He is playing a different game on a vastly different playing field. Despite his fundamental doubts or disagreement he will be ground down into eventual acceptance of that which is being demanded.
Our craven politicians are prime examples of capitulation in the face of this activist intransigence. They are as squeaky-gate oilers, hoping the problem will go away. In this manner they acquiesce to various social engineering demands, some so ludicrous they leap beyond the bounds of credulity. How did much of this nonsense pass proper legislative scrutiny one may ask – because in all probability it never received proper scrutiny – it was ram-rodded through parliament or enacted by administrative fiat. Let me reiterate – our man of good faith hasn’t a chance.
In political theory the guarantor of our freedoms in our open society is the time-honoured tradition of the separation of governing powers. Sadly this tradition no longer holds. The Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial functions of our modern state have melded into a Gordian knot of monumental proportions. This complexity has confounded the notion of ‘the referee’.
A significant factor in this complexity is the increasingly ‘activist’ nature of the judiciary. I suggest that it would not be stretching the bounds of reason to describe the judiciary as being an over politicised elite who sees its role as being an active and progressive force of societal improvement. This quite obviously is not their job. They are paid to uphold the law, act as arbiters, and to pass judgement. They are not paid to interpret the law to suit their own social agendas. If they don’t like the laws they should get off the pot and become independent legal reformers. The judiciary have however arrogated to themselves the role of legal reformer, social engineer and judge. The conflict of interest is staggering. The problem is that no one has challenged them. Their fellows in the legal profession are ambitious and greedy – and we know that greedy people always want more. They are not going to challenge the very people who can advance their interests. The government should rightly arraign self-serving judges for overstepping themselves, but politicians have not the intestinal fortitude to do so. The modern media, those wretches from the university sausage factories that constitute the pathetic remnants of the once proud tradition of the Fourth Estate, should inquire deeply into the workings of government; sadly they are generally too ill-educated to understand the complexities thereof and the few that do are card-carrying members of the progressive front.
It will take more than our man of faith’s Swiss army knife to cut through the tangled mess that is our modern governance. It requires all men of good faith to stand up in concert and tell those who would continue to misgovern us where to get off and to restore to us our precious political jewel – Common Sense.
And as to the rugby….It is my considered opinion that the Wallabies have much work to do before they are half as good as their predecessors of thirty years ago. Or are they the words of an old bloke getting older!
27 Sept 2021
I per-chanced upon an intriguingly titled article on the Russia Today network this week: 'The real reason why the Taliban has retaken Afghanistan so quickly, which Western liberal media avoids mentioning'.
Penned as an opinion editorial by the distinguished cultural philosopher Slavoj Žižek, I found it interesting inasmuch it provided insights into, not so much the title but rather the nature of the argument to arrive at the conclusion reached.
Žižek's credentials are impressive: senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University, and international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London. Fluent in Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian French, German and English, he is a fascinating product of the former eastern bloc of post-war Europe. He was born in 1949 at Ljubljana, Slovenia which at that time was part of Yugoslavia, the wild card in the communist bloc. He is a preeminent Marxism scholar, exponent of psychoanalytic theory and poster-boy for the radical European chic.
To return to his article, after concisely summarising some of the standard explanations currently touted in the Western media as to the Afghanistan debacle, Žižek then makes the important and apposite point:
The explanation that Taliban as fundamentalists “really believe” that they will enter paradise if they die as martyrs is not enough as it fails to capture the difference between belief in the sense of intellectual insight (“I know I will go to heaven, it’s a fact”) and belief as an engaged subjective position.
In other words, it fails to take into account the material power of an ideology – in this case, the power of faith – which is not simply grounded in the strength of our conviction but in how we are existentially committed to our belief: we are not subjects choosing this or that belief, but we “are” our belief in the sense of this belief impregnating our life.
Having made this significant point he then loses coherence by demonstrating his indebtedness to postmodern philosophy by losing himself in Foucault’s ill-considered philosophical and novice journalistic investigations into the success of the 1978 Islamic Revolution in Iran:
What fascinated him there was not just the stance of accepting martyrdom and indifference with regard to losing one’s own life; he was “engaged in a very specific telling of the ‘history of truth’, emphasizing a partisan and agonistic form of truth-telling, and transformation through struggle and ordeal, as opposed to the pacifying, neutralizing, and normalizing forms of modern Western power.
Expounding upon this verbosity Žižek wanders into the field of Western Marxism and the Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukacs; he suggests that Lukacs demonstrated how Marxism is “universally true” not in spite of its partiality but because it is “partial,” accessible only from a particular subjective position.
To this end, suggests Žižek, what Foucault was looking for in Iran – the agonistic (“war”) form of truth-telling – was already forcefully present in the Marxist view that being caught in the class struggle is not an obstacle to “objective” knowledge of history but its condition.
After more tortuous Foucauldian prose he comes to the nub of his argument:
Here we encounter an interesting paradox: while it is doubtful that traditional Marxism can provide a convincing account of the success of Taliban, it provided a perfect European example of what Foucault was looking for in Iran (and of what fascinates us now in Afghanistan), an example which did not involve any religious fundamentalism but just a collective engagement for a better life. After the triumph of global capitalism, this spirit of collective engagement was repressed, and now this repressed stance seems to return in the guise of religious fundamentalism.
He is correct only in one thing: it is not only doubtful but quite clear that Marxism had nothing to do with the Taliban. Remember that the Taliban, in 1992, ousted the secular civil and communist government propped up by the Russians.
Cutting through the opaque fog of his Foucauldian sophistry, I think Žižek is suggesting that the triumph of global capitalism repressed the collective engagement for a better life: the Taliban succeeded because it managed however to harness this ‘spirit’ of collective engagement in the ‘guise of religious fundamentalism’. Quite how Žižek arrived at this astonishing conclusion I am not sure.
In my understanding of the situation the Taliban’s success had diddly-squat to do with Marxism and Postmodernist Theory and everything to do with religious fundamentalism.
Let us consider: the name Taliban in the Pashto language correlates to ‘Students’ and refers to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Taliban itself is a Deobandi Islamist religious-political movement and military organization. It is and always has been an ultra-conservative religious faction that gained international infamy for its brutal fundamentalist rule of Afghanistan between 1992-2001. Religious fundamentalism is at the heart of the Taliban.
To this end, I suggest rather that the Taliban succeeded because of the following syllogism:
Islamic Truth is indivisible from individual being; the Taliban comprises exclusively of a collection of individuals that share this Truth; the Taliban is the expression of their living their Truth.
Such living Truths that can command commitment of heart and soul extend well beyond the pompous verbosities and obscurities of political ideologies. They speak directly to the individual in straightforward and unambiguous language. For example, the idea of absolute truth in Christian theology is straightforward and as old as the writing of the gospel of St John [c.90AD. In answering his disciple Thomas’ question as to how we will know the Truth: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Those imbued with such Truths are, in truth, virtually impossible to defeat culturally short of wholesale slaughter and eradication. The list of Christian Martyrs failed to defeat Christianity just as the Roman victory at Masada failed to defeat Judaism.
If Žižek’s is the real reason why the Taliban retook Afghanistan so quickly I can well understand why the Western liberal media avoided the subject, they probably share my confusion.
I have every respect for Dr Žižek by reputation. He is distinguished, preeminent in his field and somewhat of a polymath. To speak six languages other than his own quite exceptional. I can barely manage two. However, in this instance he is magnificently wrong.
I suggest the problem lies in his endeavour to link Afghanistan to Foucault’s Iran. Not only are these totally different countries and sets of circumstances, but Foucault was obviously flying kites trying to apply postmodern cultural theory on a country whose historical and cultural complexities are, in direct lineage, one of the three oldest on earth. It is little wonder he abandoned his investigations. His very brief career as a political journalist did him or his career no credit.
Here of course we arrive at a serious problem with the postmodernist critique – it is too singular in its focus and too mean [narrow] in its intent. Its reliance on obscure language [jargon] precludes its comprehension by merely educated men and women and, despite its protestations about value laden inquiry; its own ideological foundations are centred upon deconstructing Western Society.
This is not a sustained critique of postmodernism - I have neither the humour nor derangement of mind for that. I will however conclude by offering my concern about modern English language philosophy in general, specifically about its verbose and convoluted prose which sometimes verges on the esoteric. Modern philosophy journals are filled with unreadable and superfluously cited articles that render Hegel a pleasure to read.
Philosophy is the art of thinking about, and hopefully providing answers to, problems. It endeavours to shine a light into darkness. The inability to explain this process with clarity is distinctly unhelpful.
I have only one thing in common with the eminent Dr Slavoj Žižek, we both studied Marxism to some depth. The difference seemingly being, he actually swallowed it in toto and is still struggling with the unpleasant experience.
26 August 2021
Earlier this year I was confounded to read in Arts and Letters Daily that in the United States there is a movement in some university classics departments to purge the teaching of classics of its emphasis on white privilege and its inherent racism. Appalled at this utter nonsense on the 6th of March I penned a response, as below. Unsurprisingly I have received no acknowledgement. I have no doubt my supposed iconoclasm shocked their sensibilities – moreover, how dare an antipodean intrude upon their private hate-fest. Even worse he failed to genuflect at their altar of towering bulldust.
In the event I am going to include this piece in my work on Christendom and the development of our civilisation. The increasing inanity of American academe is too good a target to miss. I confess this is lengthy piece but I do hope you find it worthwhile.
When I first read about Professor Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s deprecating comments about his own undoubted field of academic expertise my first thought was that the poor fellow had totally missed the fundamental point about the universality of the classics. Having sparked my curiosity I alighted upon Rachel Poser’s most interesting feature article in the New York Times [2 Feb 2021] followed by Professor Johanna Hanink’s sympathetic accompaniment in the Higher Education Chronicle [11 Feb 2021].
From these I gather that there exists a cohort of contemporary American classicists who are actively seeking to revise the teaching of their discipline. From the aforementioned two writers I understand the contemporary American critique of the classics may be summarised as follows:
That the stories of ancient Greece and Rome play an abnormal part of America’s national imagination because they have been woven into the fabric of that country’s history. There exists a supposedly ‘sinister’ side to this adulation of antiquity inasmuch some of the defenders of slavey purportedly sought justification in the pro-slavery sentiments of certain ancient philosophers. That some American monuments designed on classical lines, were in actuality, constructed to evoke the Old South. The classical tradition became ineluctably bound to American nationalism and foreign policy – justifying for example American intervention in the Greek Civil War of 1946-49.
President Trump’s executive order Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture underscored the point that Washington and Jefferson sought to use classical architecture to connect the new Republic with the antecedents of democracy in classical antiquity. This architectural policy, still extant, officially encourages classical and traditional architecture for all new federal buildings. According to its critics, this policy invokes rosy visions of Greco-Roman antiquity and the early United States.
These critiques probe over an extended range in which little is spared, the notion for example, of ‘Western Civilisation’ is in itself an American construct developed by “New Historians” working at American universities in the aftermath of World War One. The exalted and ‘triumphalist’ status afforded to the idea of ‘Western Civilisation’ and the inclusion of classicism in the American nationalist narratives helps to ensure the pre-eminence of a certain identity group: being, American, Western, white, male.
To this end, the appropriateness of the “Great Books” history courses should be questioned. That the study of classics as a ‘fairy tale’ Western origin story should be abandoned and the de-privileging of Greco-Roman antiquity will introduce a new generation of classicists better in tune with the world’s shifting realities.
These critics continue by positing that there is much anger in the discipline of classics emanating from conservative angst at its supposed decline in the hands of liberals. There is also angst among those drawn to the discipline but are hindered by its exclusivist structures. There is exasperation at the media coverage of this latest chapter in the so-called culture wars inasmuch its coverage omits the intellectual innovation and knowledge advancement that is happening in the classics, much of it is thanks to classicists of colour — not because of the current disciplinary structures, but despite them.
However, all is not yet lost. Fortunately there exist some classicists who are setting the classics on a new and obviously politically correct new path. Professor Hanink details that through the prisms of these saviours it is demonstrated ‘incontrovertibly’ ‘how ideas about ancient Greece and Rome have been used to authorize racist and other exclusionary practices and narratives’. These worthy souls are now ‘exposing’ how the academic discipline of classics is: “both a product of and long-time accomplice in violent societal structures, including white supremacy, colonialism, classism, and misogyny”.
Hanink then applies the usual anticipatory defensive position - There are, of course, some who feel threatened by this kind of work – thereby dismissing anyone having the temerity to take issue with her argument as being intrinsically inadequate. She suggests that those who might cast a critical lens over her argument are categorised as believing that any revision of the classics is not only an attack on Western civilization but on the United States’ putative leading role in it.
This is all standard American liberal fare. It plays to, and might resonate with, a certain and a limited audience – Americans. The intellectual issues addressed are American ones. Unfortunately, with usual American arrogance of assumption, the disgruntled American classicists are trying, yet again, to impose American views of the classics on Western Civilisation.
Unsurprisingly, not all the Western World is enamoured at this prospect.
In a recent and timely article for the New York Times, foreign correspondent Norimitsu Onishi observed in a detailed article on contemporary intellectual debate in France, that politicians and prominent intellectuals are concerned that progressive social theories from the United States on race, gender and post-colonialism are a threat to French identity and the French republic.
Published on 9 February 2021 the article leads: “The threat is said to be existential. It fuels secessionism. Gnaws at national unity. Abets Islamism. Attacks France’s intellectual and cultural heritage.
Onishi continues by citing education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer who declared: “There’s a battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities.’’
Blanquer went so far as to suggest that universities, under American influence, are complicit with terrorists by providing the intellectual justification behind their acts.
In another development some 100 prominent scholars penned an open letter in Le Monde supporting the minister and decrying theories “transferred from North American campuses”.
French historian Pierre-André Taguieff said the French people are ‘exasperated’ by phrases such as "systemic racism'' and "white privilege," which he says are an "artificial importation" from America.
There is of course a dreadful irony in this. I remember in the 1980s reading that the locus of philosophical thought had shifted from Europe to North America. At the time I entertained doubts about this. Today however, I have no doubts that the current nonsense emanating out of America’s academe can be directly traced to the then influx of ideas from French postmodern thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida – both of whom have had a profound effect on the direction of American academe which has today become, as Jarret Stepman observed: “the locus of the wokeness”.
In France a continuing major culture battle is now enjoined yet again the increasing endeavours by some zealots to gender-neutralise the French language. As Stepman further opined: “Nevertheless, it’s a positive development that even left-leaning French leaders such as Macron see the woke ideology—once loosed from ivory towers and unleashed on society—as a monumentally destructive force”.
The countries of Central Europe, together with their former captor, Russia, have needed no such epiphany. Having suffered under the cultural yoke of communism they remain firmly opposed to the latest American export of liberal-totalitarian cultural revisionism.
Sadly, the foregoing serves to highlight the decline of America as a serious contributor to the intellectual development of the arts and humanities. But it is with even greater regret that I watch the other members of the Anglosphere following suit. Canada is the locus of its own peculiar intellectual prolapse. Australia has slavishly followed every American intellectual trend since the 1960s. New Zealand doesn’t matter and Britain is busy reinventing itself into the world’s first truly culturally neutered society. As the Anglosphere slides into intellectual irrelevance, it is heartening at least to see the afore-detailed European cultures stepping up to their role as the intellectual standard-bearers for Western Civilisation.
But, to return specifically to the charges of the critics.
The reading, study or pursuit of the classics is no mere academic subject to be taught as part of the attainment of a university degree. After all, what earthly good can the doings of civilisations that existed over three millennia ago be of any use in resolving contemporary social, political and economic problems?
Considered purely in this utilitarian light there might be little cause for keeping any tertiary classics departments open. The critics might as well pack their bags now and consider themselves lucky to have existed on the ‘white man’s’ teat for as long as they have.
So why read the classics?
A point deliberately overlooked by critics is that every civilisation, every culture, every society and every family has its foundation myths, its traditions and history. Some of these are older, more complex, and richer than others. These traditions and history provide the anchor, the context and social cohesion for the subsequent historical and cultural narrative of that civilisation. These stories, broadly described, are the classics pertaining to that civilisation.
Some of these classics have been maintained by an oral tradition, as evidenced by, say, the Australian aborigines. More advanced cultures developed the written script to record their historical and intellectual endeavours.
What we have come to know as Western Civilisation traces its lineage from the foundational stories and myths of the ‘cradle of civilisation’ history; through the Abrahamic historical account, to the Greek civilisation and through to the fall of the Roman Empire. In broad brush terms this is what is meant by the Western classics.
Our civilisation is fortunate inasmuch it contains an extensive written record of much of this period. Like all history this record is subject to constant review and oft reinterpretation. Other civilisations, say for example the Chinese and the Indian, also have an extensive written tradition which is continually pored over by scholars for fresh insights into the nature of their respective cultures.
These cultures have carried down the centuries a distinct and relatively quantifiable linear narrative about their history, their failures and achievements and their place in the world.
Unfortunately some civilisations either did not have in the first place, or failed to leave, a literary record and accordingly they have disappeared almost without trace. It is largely through the work of contemporary scholars from more advanced civilisations excavating ruins, examining remaining artefacts and surmising conclusions about these lost civilisations that we know anything about them at all.
Some of the more basic societal units around the globe that relied on an oral tradition suffer from a distinct disadvantage in that they are unable to quantify their history. In terms of quality and depth of culture it is a sad but irredeemable fact that their culture will, eventually, be subsumed by more sophisticated cultures.
If this is triumphalism then so be it. If telling the story of a civilisation is triumphalism then let it be. If writing the history of a society’s failures and successes is triumphalism – too bad.
When I studied Latin and classics at school I did not do so under the banner of triumphalism. And on this immediate point, it will not do to suggest that in the context of my schooldays ‘triumphalism’ was inferred. That is balderdash. I studied under the tuition of professional and apolitical teachers. I studied with fascination at the political, social, racial and cultural mix that was the ancient world. I grew up retaining that fascination, heightened only by the equal fascination as to how such a cultural amalgam still directs my life as a member of what we now call Western Civilisation.
Allow me to labour this point – the story of the classical world as so described and accepted – made a profound contribution to the development of Western Europe and Western Civilisation. It also made a profound contribution to the development of Islamic Civilisation. However, until the period of European expansion, it made a miniscule contribution to Indian Civilisation and zero contribution to Chinese, Indo-Chinese, Malay or early American Civilisations.
That the affairs of the ‘modern’ world, until most recent years, have been driven by Western Civilisation is a matter of undisputed record. Although unpalatable to some, such is the record. Period. During this period mankind underwent a period of complex quantitative and qualitative enlightenment. The accompanying scientific, technological, social, political and economic changes irretrievably shaped the direction of the world. During this period of hyper-change there were manifold successes, tragic failures, winners and losers. Thus are the affairs of men.
Sensible societies of the past accepted and adopted to change or they perished. They did not bewail their misfortune, call for an umpire and demand a change to the rules.
So I ask again, why read classics?
Quite obviously because for those of us brought up in the traditions of Western Civilisation it provides a broader sense of identity with the past, our shared experiences with other cultures and provides a direction as to our place in the world. It underwrites and validates our own society.
In this context, let me directly address one of the complaints detailed above by critics of American classicism – the notion that classicism is interwoven into the fabric of American political society.
America’s recourse to classicism must be seen in the context of the political entity that emerged from the tragedy of what was effectively the First American Civil War [Independence Wars]. As discussed above, every society needs its societal founding myths, the former colonies, then anchorless in the world, especially so.
The American foundation myth of hardy, self-sufficient, honest-to-God and freedom-loving colonists rebelling against the might of the British Empire to gain their independence has been carefully preserved and manipulated through the ages. This was in large part initially achieved and justified by recourse to a misty notion of Athenian democracy and moral superlatives about classical antiquity. These ideas were given visual impression through monuments and architecture and they were given intellectual expression through the high-minded notions of liberty, equality, religious freedom.
To have one’s foundation myths and tradition rooted in high-mindedness is no bad thing. It provides a sense of nobleness to live up to. Living in a society littered with monuments and buildings that speak of greatness, nobility, of history, the present and indeed, the future, should be inspirational - they make a statement about the foundation of that society – warts and all – and they serve as a reminder not only to what that society was but what that society aspires to be.
Every civilisation built ‘monumentally’ for precisely the same reasons. Consider the temple at Borobudur, the Kremlin or the Imperial Palace [Kōkyo]. Although these were built at different times by different people with differing values of today, they were built with a single intent in common – to reflect the greatness of that society.
It is true that some unpleasant characters in history also constructed their ‘grand-designs’. The fact that they themselves were unpleasant does not however necessarily diminish the intrinsic or aesthetic value of their designs. Should we, for example, pull down the pyramids just because the Pharos were slave owning swine! If we were to judge and destroy international architecture by such a perspective the world would be much poorer indeed.
No society is perfect. Every society has its flaws, failings and dark history. No society can honestly say that it has lived up to the expectations inherent in its mythology its fond notions of itself. Quite obviously the United States is no exception.
The seemingly insuperable question of race has lurked in the subconsciousness of political America since that country’s inception as an independent political entity. For sound reasons and poor ethics, some Americans were, until 1865, quite legally a slave owning people. Since that time, the descendants of the slaves have, with mixed success, tried to come to grips with their status as citizens. Today, there exists an inordinately large class of Americans who claim lineal descent from the slaves and who consider themselves to be completely alienated from everything about mainstream America.
The historical failure of American society in letting this sore fester over the decades is palpable. Trying to talk to this alienated and now heavily politicised class about America’s founding myths is, currently, pointless.
However, looking to the future, something every historian should do on occasion, it is readily apparent that the solution does not lie in throwing out everything that is noble and decent in American society. It will not do to pour scorn on its history, its myths and traditions, the inestimable good it has brought to the world and the continuing potential of good it can deliver to generations hereafter.
Whilst obviously the solutions are complex, there is a significant blight that needs excising from our societal vocabulary, being the notion of ‘Victimhood’. This modern sociological construct invites anyone to be a ‘victim’ of anything; naturally the ‘victim’ is largely absolved of responsibility and even guilt. It is a pernicious and insidious canker in Western society that eats at the very heart of human dignity, enterprise and self-confidence.
There is no doubt that Black Americans have some genuine and long-standing grievances – so did their brothers in what is now known as the West Indies. The difference being that the West Indians got on with it. Of course many Black Americans have done likewise, overcoming manifold obstacles, real and imagined, to become successful and acculturated citizens. It might not have been easy, but they have shown that it is possible.
In the halls of academe I have no doubt that, following their fellows in the social sciences, many classicists employ reductionist argument to inculcate the notion of victimhood into their students. It makes life much easier if you believe that your troubles are all someone else’s fault.
Ploughing through Hanink’s and Posers papers, and then perusing the internet for details about Padilla, provided me with much desolé. Without entering into demeaning fallacy of ad hominem argumentum I consider that Padilla has fallen for the trap of projecting his own experiences and emotions into his intellectual endeavours. This is unfortunate.
I return to my original notion of the universalism of the classics. They are stories to be read and appreciated by everyone should they be interested. They contain lessons and language that is humorous, tragic and inspirational for all occasions and all people, as appropriate to their situation, irrespective of the colour of their skin or circumstances.
In my own field of study I read various Asian classics. I am not bothered about their ‘triumphalism’; their inherent privilege or their sexism. I read them for what they are – universal stories of metaphysics, the universal saga of good and evil, of power and disempowerment and of course, as art and the apocalypse.
In closing, I might add that the universality of classics challenges us to think about intellectual problems pertaining to our society. To provide an immediate and random personal example, I was reading last night Giambattista Vico’s autobiography - idiosyncratically written in the third person - when I came across this apparent trifling:
“Then, in reading Horace’s Art [of Poetry] that the richest source of poetical suggestion is to be found in the writings of the moral philosophers, he applied himself seriously to the ethics of the ancient Greeks, beginning with that of Aristotle, to which, as he had observed in his reading, the authorities on the various principles of the civil institutes frequently referred. And in this study he noticed that Roman jurisprudence was an art of equity conveyed by innumerable specific precepts of natural law which the jurists had extracted from the reasons of the laws and the intentions of the legislators.”
It should be noted that Vico was at that time deeply immersed in the study of law. His book continues to recount afore-detailed inquiries with some interesting insights into moral philosophy, the law, Plato and Aristotle. As an historian and writer on politics I frequently avail myself of the occasion to delve into ‘the ancients’ for insights into human nature, historical precedents and, above all, for pleasure.
BODY COPY ENDS
 Hanink, J. If Classics Doesn’t Change, Let it Burn. https://www.chronicle.com/article/if-classics-doesnt-change-let-it-burn
 'Woke' American Ideas Are a Threat, French Leaders Say - The New York Times (nytimes.com) Published Feb. 9, 2021Updated Feb. 10, 2021
 Vico, Giambattista. The Autobiography. [Part A] Trnsl. Fisch & Bergin. Cornell Paperbacks. Ithaca & London. 1962. Kindle Edition.
So, Queenslanders are going to the polls tomorrow. If not an auspicious date then highly symbolic, being the commencement of the season of Allhallowtide – Halloween – when all the fools come out to play.
Irrespective of the outcome, you can bet your Sweet Aunt Georgia nothing will change. Why? Because Queenslanders are a parochial and generally contented lot and have a deep-seated hostility to change.
Paradox you might think. Queensland has one of the most dynamic economies and fastest growing populations in the country; the topography and natural environment of its south-east corner is being ripped and raped daily into indistinguishable swathes of bitumen, concrete and cement to make room for people, cars and houses - change, of course we want change. No you don’t!
Queenslanders have always had it good. Their balmy sub and tropical climates are wonderful, except of course for cyclones, floods and droughts. They have always enjoyed a ready and overflowing food bowl of fruit, seeds, vegetables, cattle, fish, sheep and milk. They have mineral resources aplenty – wonderful sights and sounds along an idyllic Pacific Ocean coast - and there’s still much truth in the image of the proverbial laid-back lotus-eating lifestyle of the laconic Queenslander.
But there exists, beneath this beachy-shimmer, golden summers, board shorts and bullshit image, a darker socio-political reality. The dispersed nature of the population, across Australia’s second largest state, has engendered a stifling sense of parochial regionalism. Small and semi-isolated communities are natural festering grounds for rumour and oddball beliefs. Strange notions abound about there being ‘something in the water’ and conspiracy theories and persecution complexes gain ready currency in places ‘out West’ or in the ‘Deep North’. The people of the west and north have a strong and abiding mistrust, bordering on detestation of people living in the south-east. These factors of very real disconnection are tunes played beautifully on various parochial political fiddles. Indeed, political Queensland has traditionally been the home of mavericks, shysters, fraudsters and idiots. However, all Queenslanders join in their condemnation of southerners in general. The Covid crisis has seen that particularly ugly spectre flourish.
But what has all this to do with the elections? Everything. Let me say again, whoever wins, nothing will change. Why? For six interconnected reasons:
1. On the 23rd of March 1922, the government, for political gain, abolished the upper house. Queensland is therefore the only unicameral state parliament in Australia. A bicameral parliament has two chambers, the upper one being, essentially, a house of review – a house wherein legislation can be looked at in more detail and subject to greater public scrutiny.
Queensland’s single chamber is a wonderful gift for politicians inasmuch there is little check on them or their extravagances. Thus Queenslanders have, for ninety-eight years, been witness to a veritable procession of oddballs, tyrants and outright crooks elected, re-elected and re-elected again, all operating within the authority and sanctity of ‘parliament’ – the single house chamber that their party dominated. In essence, Queensland politics is akin to the winner takes all.
A simple solution would be to re-open the upper house. This would bring Queensland into line with the rest of the country. Provided the electoral boundaries were to drawn with appropriate equity, such a chamber would provide a democratic check on the lower house and allow otherwise hastily rammed through legislation time to be reviewed and scrutinised. Naturally no politicians or political party in Queensland supports or even countenances the idea.
I once asked a Liberal National Party Member of Parliament some years ago about the efficacy and transparency of Queensland’s inadequate unicameral system. He replied with a straight face that the lower house had its own system of house committees that ‘worked very well’. Bollocks! Caesar appealing to Caesar.
2. On the 7th of September 2020 the state treasurer, Cameron Dick, admitted that Queensland's state debt had ballooned during the COVID-19 crisis with the $234 million budget surplus forecast being turned into an $8.1 billion deficit. He further admitted that Queensland’s total debt will skyrocket to $101.9 billion in 2020-21, up from the $100.7 billion predicted two months previously.
If this news is incomprehensible enough, on the 26th of October 2020 Mr Dick said Labor's election promises would be funded through a $4 billion borrowing fund - documents released revealing an additional $317 million had been set aside in unallocated funding to support the state's economic recovery.
So, to cut to the chase, the state is going down the financial gurgler and the government wants to spend, sorry, borrow more money. Perhaps it should join China’s Belt Road Initiative.
3. Irrespective of one’s political leaning, no one should reasonably deny that Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government has stretched its integrity credentials to breaking point. The misdemeanours and resignations of several of her ministers should stand testament to that.
To add to these various questions of ministerial integrity, despite Queensland’s dire economic situation, the current government distinguished itself by playing an extended game of footloose with the state’s vital mining economy during its romance with the Green constituency over the question of coal mining. For this piece of economic imprudence alone it should be seen to the door.
Palaszczuk’s handling of the Covid 19 restrictions were hardly statesman-like or ethical. In essence they may be summarised as: No! Piss Off! Queenslanders Only! We’re Right Jack!
With the notable exception of the tourist industry, this policy played out well to the parochial electoral sentiments of Queenslanders: “We don’t want those bloody southerners up here”, was a popular refrain, usually enjoined by the chorus: “They can keep their Covid and their caravans too!”.
I make the obvious and important note that there is a distinct difference between obstinacy and strong considered leadership. Today’s political leaders cannot differentiate between the two.
4. The Liberal National Party opposition, under the leadership of Debbie Frecklington, completes the matriarchy that is Queensland’s politics. Its performance is pathetic, to the point of being non-existent.
5. This Queensland state election is a depressing exemplification of the depths to which politics has sunk in our liberal democracies.
The Labor government, having no ammunition in their election armoury, has resorted to the time honoured tactic of slagging off its opponents. It followed a similar negative campaign strategy used in 2015 by then opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, focusing on the 14,000 public sector job cuts under former LNP premier Campbell Newman. This successful campaign led to his ousting after just one term.
Two terms later and Palaszczuk is again the face behind another blatant and vicious scare campaign. This campaign was deliberately manufactured on an intellectual deceit that makes post-graduate plagiarising look acceptable.
On the 28th of October 2020 The Australian’s senior reporter, Michael McKenna exposed the story: ‘Advertising guru Dee Madigan the architect of Labor scare campaign’. This story detailed a gross conflict of interest, half-truth and intellectual and media double-dealing of a significant scale.
In summary: the Queensland Labor Party hired long-time Labor advertising guru Dee Madigan to run their 2020 election campaign. Madigan is a veteran of Labor campaigns at state and federal levels and is a regular panellist on the ABC television programme ‘Gruen’ – a show about the advertising industry.
This current and totally negative campaign has more than passing resemblance to the totally unsubstantiated 2016 ‘Mediscare’ campaign that claimed that the then Coalition federal government was planning to privatise Medicare.
Madigan’s Queensland 2020 scare campaign is based upon economic analysis prepared by a Melbourne firm and “progressive think tank”, Per Capita, which is directly linked to Dee Madigan. It features slick and highly effective attack adverts accusing the opposition Liberal National Party of planning to cut thousands of public servants’ jobs.
Note: From their website: Per Capita is an independent, progressive think tank, dedicated to fighting inequality in Australia. We work to build a new vision for Australia based on fairness, shared prosperity, community, and social justice.
This analysis alleged the opposition could not meet its campaign promise to return the state budget to surplus in four years unless it shed 29,500 jobs in its first year of government.
However, not only is Dee Madigan overseeing Labor’s advertising in the campaign, she is also a board member of Per Capita upon whose analysis the campaign is predicated. Moreover, the analysis paper was commissioned by the public sector’s Together union and is co-authored by a Shirley Jackson who also ran recently as a Labor candidate in a Victorian council election. The shining glory in this cosy little arrangement and, coincidently, jobs for girls, was the fact that the content of the analysis was reported exclusively by the ABC on October 16.
Consequent to the story running on radio and online, Labor launched its attack adverts citing the very same ABC news report, which of course, omitted the fact of Ms Jackson’s then ALP candidacy in the council elections or the think tank’s connections to Madigan.
Over the following days Labor’s social media posts and almost saturation television advertising backed the theme: “Cutting 30,000 jobs’’. Furthermore, the advertising detailed: “Report finds public sector job and spending cuts are the LNP’s only option to balance budget in four years,’’ featuring the ABC logo.
This was reinforced by another advert detailing: “Deb Frecklington thinks it’s a good idea to rush to surplus in just 4 years cutting 30,000 jobs.’’
Naturally this was manna to Queensland’s journalists who were quick and constant in plying the opposition leader about her ‘intentions’ to shed jobs and so forth. It also provided plenty of fodder for Mr Dick who repeatedly echoed Labor’s attack and the alleged 30,000 job losses.
Although Ms Frecklington and her Treasury spokesman Tim Mander have repeatedly denied the truth of the story, the mud stuck.
There are several questions to be answered here.
Foremostly is the question of the integrity of the data being deployed? The second question is the complicity of the taxpayer funded ABC in broadcasting this compromised data. Thirdly, is the question as to whether data that has been categorically denied should be allowed to be broadcast and finally is the unpalatable fact of the ABC logo being used by a political party for election purposes.
6. Despite Queensland’s burgeoning debt, both parties are making extravagant promises that they know, the electorate knows and Uncle Tom Cobley knows they haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of keeping. Both parties kept the release of their election promise costings until the last moment. In my personal view, the Queensland electorate has been subject to the crudest vote buying exercise I have witnessed outside South East Asia.
The foregoing points serve as yet another set of examples of the degradation of what was once known as liberal democracy. Gone are the days of carefully prepared and delivered party manifestos against which politicians would be held to account. Gone are the days of robust discussion and detailed and critical media scrutiny. In short, gone are the days of integrity. They have been replaced by cynical grabs for power with the acquiescence of the media and the complacency of the people.
The latter point is the key: the lamentable aspect to all this is that most people won’t notice or don’t care. Thus, to return whence we started, win or lose, pick your side, nothing will change. The days are getting longer and warmer, the mangos will shortly be in season, a couple of surfers might get eaten by sharks … another Queensland summer beckons.
Frankly, I don’t think we deserve democratic governance. We had it once and look what a mess we made of it. Watching the results on the television on Saturday election night have been a pleasurable ritual for me over the decades – this Saturday night my wife and I are going to see an open-air production of King Ubu. Entirely appropriate I think.
At grave risk of getting bogged down in the murky world of lies, deception and parallel universes that constitutes the United States’ cumbersome, outdated and inefficient security world, an interesting news sideline crossed my screen three days ago which I found of significant interest.
Naturally this sideline was overwhelmingly sidelined by most of the mainstream media: although, interestingly, it found its way into several British news outlets but was, I suspect, soon glossed over.
Let me briefly introduce the subject: Crossfire Hurricane was the code name for the counterintelligence investigation undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2016 and 2017 into links between Trump associates and Russian officials and "whether individuals associated with Donald Trump's presidential campaign were coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly, with the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election".
Any casual observer of American politics will be aware that the question as to whether Russian intelligence services endeavoured and failed/succeeded in interfering with the 2016 presidential election dominated most of Donald Trump’s presidency. The matter is still subject to bitter political controversy.
To this end, on Tuesday 29 September 2020, the day of the Great Debauched Debate, the Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), released a letter from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe. The latter was responding to Graham’s request for intelligence community information regarding the FBI’s handling of Crossfire Hurricane.
Follows is the text of this release:
DNI Ratcliffe provided the following declassified information to the committee:
Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham concluded: “I appreciate DNI Ratcliffe responding to my request for any information concerning all things Russia in the 2016 campaign, not just alleged Trump-Russia involvement.
“Director Ratcliffe will make this information available in a classified setting. I will try to review the material as early as today.
“This latest information provided by DNI Ratcliffe shows there may have been a double standard by the FBI regarding allegations against the Clinton campaign and Russia. Whether these allegations are accurate is not the question. The question is did the FBI investigate the allegations against Clinton like they did Trump? If not, why not? If so, what was the scope of the investigation? If none, why was that?
“I look forward to speaking with Director Comey about this latest information, and many other topics, at tomorrow’s hearing.”
At that hearing [30 September 2020] former FBI Director James Comey – fired by President Donald Trump in May 2017 - was unsurprisingly uncooperative. For this account I rely upon The Daily Signal, the publication of the reputable academic and conservative think-tank, The Heritage Foundation, of which I am a member.
Comey took questions via link from the Senate committee for almost four hours on Wednesday, primarily about the FBI’s Russia-Trump investigation, code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” before the Justice Department named a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to take up the matter.
[NOTE. The final report by special counsel Mueller found no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.]
Comey fielded most questions but had the same answers for many of them. Throughout the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, in which he gave sworn testimony, Comey repeatedly offered the responses “I don’t know,” “I know nothing about … ,” “I don’t recall,” “I don’t remember,” “I only know what is in the public record,” “I can’t answer that,” and “That doesn’t ring a bell.”
Comey also said, “I don’t know anything about the facts that have recently been revealed about the subsource.”
In another often-repeated variation, Comey frequently responded to senators by questioning their questions, saying, “I don’t agree with your characterization,” “I don’t agree with your preamble,” or “I don’t agree with your predicate.”
Aside from a flat denial to the question – “Did President Obama or Vice President Biden ever ask you to investigate a political rival or to go easy on a political rival?” most of his answers were of an evasive nature. Given that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found numerous flaws in the FBI investigation in a report last year and given that Comey was in charge of that investigation, I would consider his responses to be totally inadequate and a strong indicative of double-dealing.
Such hearings have a habit of bouncing off brick walls. If one or more of the protagonists chooses to obfuscate there is little that can be achieved. Particularly this is the case in the United States, wherein the contorted use of the provisions of the Fifth Amendment has kept many miscreants out of gaol.
I make no claims as to the veracity or credibility of the foregoing document except to say that this material is in the public domain. Some of it issued into that domain by the Chairman of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee some thirty-three days before a presidential election.
In my view, Crossfire Hurricane and the afore-detailed document serve as a metaphor highlighting a hitherto and deliberately disregarded structural flaw in the ideal of an open and democratic society. Specifically, my point is that this document and the timing of its release, serve to confirm that the entire process of governance in the United States is deeply politicised. This process of politicisation amply illustrates the fragility of democracy.
From the very moment President Trump won the 2016 election it became apparent that a large cohort of Americans automatically and immediately denied his legitimacy. The disgraceful scenes of riot and mayhem in Washington on his Inauguration Day are case to point. It needs be said that one might not like the newly elected and installed incumbent but convention and civility dictate a certain courtesy. This is a virtue that has been totally absent in the anti-Trump camp since before day one. Indeed, it would not be unfair to say that his tenure in office may be characterised as a four year impeachment period.
In effect, swathes of the judiciary have been openly antagonistic to Trump. As have nearly all of the mainstream media, the political ‘Establishment’, a large percentage of State Governors, the intelligentsia and academics and, of course, the true believers of the Democratic Party. That the judiciary deliberately set out to thwart Trump’s policies was an insult to his election promises. That the FBI has been proven to be culpable of playing politics is an international disgrace. Although it is not the first time this egregious organisation has done so – one need only to think J. Edgar Hoover and the McCarthyism of the 1950s.
In my view, the Trump Years may also be characterised, quite simply, by the singular fact that one side of politics totally disregarded the results of the umpire – the American electoral system – an electoral system that had served the country since its foundation. This side of politics effectively refuted the presidential election of 2016 and embarked on a wilful and juvenile vendetta on the basis: We woz robbed!
For this, certain political leaders should hang their head in collective shame. They broke that fragile virtue underpinning civil society – Trust.
It is indeed ironical that the official motto of the United States is: In God We Trust.
The very fabric of society is woven around the idea of trust. At its most elemental level, you trust the other person to obey the social contract thereby ensuring your safety – in accord, he trusts you to obey the law and behave decently so that he can walk abroad in safety.
Once that virtue has been broken it is difficult to repair. Consequent to that breakdown, the United States has devolved into various tribes, each with its own narrative, each mistrustful of the other.
This contagion is both a reflection of the decline of the West and the next step in its collapse. Many observers outside the United States have been quick and ready with comment about the crisis of democracy gripping that country.
Those same observers would do well to look closer to home. How much trust do we place on our society? Do we trust politicians? Do we trust the judicial system and its activist judges? Or the police, the lawyers and the prison system? Do we trust the media? How do we rate our educators to bring up our children untainted with fashionable ideology? What about our senior bureaucrats, our bankers and big business in general? Do we really trust the universities and their constant grubbing for money, their sometime dubious and secretive commercial scientific research or their ideologically driven Humanities programmes?
Aside from firemen and ambulance officers, who do we actually trust? Certainly not the ‘system’, - that very same system that has been mismanaging the current pandemic.
Since the Enlightenment our civilisation has been working to push God off his pedestal. Not only have we now succeeded, we have climbed atop the pedestal ourselves. Right-On Bro! It’s all about me!
This morning I wrote to an old friend. I concluded my note by saying: I am watching the world with increasing dismay. Events now have gone way beyond an old codger lamenting his lost youth and the ‘good old days’ – I am confirmed in my view that our civilisation is undergoing a Gothic structural collapse. Its fundaments of spiritual strength, self-confidence and the open society, based on trust and mutual respect, have been too deeply undermined. It is up to good men to salvage what we can and lay the foundation for what follows.
And now President Trump has contracted Covid 19. I wish him, his wife and his colleagues, a safe and speedy recovery. His illness is a timely and trenchant reminder that the delicate frailty of life transcends all human conceits. It is, perhaps, a fitting conclusion to the Greek tragedy that has been his presidency.
3 October 2020
Allow me the opportunity to propose a Monty Pythonesque scenario.
I am the Prime Minister of the Day. I propose a fully government [tax payer] funded, independent national statuary body, headed by a magnificently paid president and seven handsomely paid commissioners, assisted by generous numbers of extremely well-paid research officers, lawyers and administrators whose sole job it is, with no accountability whatsoever to the Australian people, to ensure that my government abides by the letter of the law to some seventeen  international treaties, protocols and agreements that the people of Australia have not assented to and most of whom know absolutely nothing about.
If I put this to the people as an election promise I would quite rightly be given short change.
This, however, is exactly what Prime Minister Bob Hawke did in 1986 when his Labor Government introduced and passed the Human Rights and Equality of Opportunity Commission Act through parliament. This folly morphed into the Australian Human Rights Commission Act thereby establishing a formidable bureaucracy which is now supported by a numerous supplementary legislation relating to race, age, gender, disability, fair work, and now gender identity.
This Draconian institution emerged and grew, incrementally, out of the Race Relation Act  of the Labor Government of Gough Whitlam, together with a proliferation of innocuous sounding legislation such as the Fraser government’s Anti-Discrimination Act .
At the time, in the laconic Australian idiom of ‘she’ll be right mate’, these were generally accepted as being a ‘good thing’. Their proponents at the time argued that as Australia was the only Western country not to have a Bill of Rights it was imperative that these matters should be enshrined in legislation. I remember my response at the time was that this country had done perfectly well without a Bill of Rights: we were then one of the most democratic societies in the world with a genuine and proud history of welcoming genuine refugees and a country that had recently concluded a successful assisted passage immigration programme. Why add to the potentially regulatory mess?
It was one of the few political matters I have not changed my mind upon. I have held the view and expressed in writing several times elsewhere that you cannot legislate goodness. That comes from strong internal morality. More regulation does not make man good. Legal coercion prevents him, perhaps, from being bad. But in doing so it hands over his moral responsibilities and conscience to somebody else. I remain steadfast in this view.
This is why I consider the Australian Human Rights Commission [AHRC] to be the most intrusive, pernicious, draconian and Orwellian cancer in our body politic.
Allow me to extrapolate.
In 1951, when the world was a very different place, the then international community saw fit to draw up a convention addressing the plight of refugees from war – specifically inspired by the immediate aftermath of the 1939-45 world war. The administration of this convention was entrusted to a body within the UN entitled ‘The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ [UNHCR]. This grew to be a significant office within the UN. Drawing from its website:
The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key legal document that forms the basis of our work. Ratified by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.
The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.
UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected.
The Convention was drafted and signed by the United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons, held at Geneva over the period 2-25 July 1951. The Convention was adopted on 28 July 1951; in accordance with Article 43, it entered into force on 22 April 1954. The Protocol was adopted on 31 January 1967.
Australia signed the convention on 22 January 1954 and the Protocol in December 1973. This presaged the first of many such accords that Australia signed, in my view, uncritically, thereby gradually signing over much of its sovereignty to the United Nations.
I say uncritically because some forty-one  countries, including China, the UK, France, Germany, other Western European countries and the USA signed the protocol with reservations or objections. Australia however signed up for the full-Monty with one minor provision that: "The Government of Australia will not extend the provisions of the Protocol to Papua/New Guinea."
Of course, having signed once, Australia was further obliged to continue signing to further protocols and further concords. Thus, has Australia, in seeking to be ‘liked by everyone’, gradually emasculated itself.
Let us look therefore in some detail as to what Australia has signed up for.
The Australian Human Rights Commission is a Corporate Commonwealth Entity under the Public Governance, established under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act . Its “operations are determined independently of the government through our President and Commissioners.”
In short this means that it is funded directly by the taxpayer without direct accountability to the taxpayer with the authority to do as it chooses within its extremely broad terms of reference without any direct supervision by the taxpayer’s representative, being, the Minister of the Crown.
As at March 2019 the AHRC comprised a President and seven Commissioners:
Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM
In 2014, then Commissioner Tim Wilson, enjoyed a total salary of $389,000 plus vehicle and telephone expenses. In December 2015 the then President enjoyed a salary of $417,800 plus travel and allowances These are extremely large figures by any means.
It is instructive at this point to examine the AHRC Terms of Reference as detailed in the Commission’s 2017/18 Annual Report:
Australia is a party to the seven-core international human rights treaties:
It is against these treaties that human rights scrutiny processes under the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 are undertaken. Australia also has periodic treaty body reporting obligations under these treaties.
Australia is an active participant
in the Universal Periodic Review process which provides an in-depth analysis of Australia’s compliance with our international human rights obligations.
Australia is also a party to:
These seven ‘core’ international human rights treaties, six protocols and a further four compliance and periodic reporting/review scrutinies and support mechanisms indicate the depth to which Australia is in thrall to the United Nations.
Domestically the AHRC also operates under the federal laws pertaining to discrimination on the basis of:
Last but certainly not least, the Commission also has specific responsibilities under:
The unelected elite who comprise the Australian Human Rights Commission are, effectively, answerable not to the Australian Government representing the Australian people, but to the United Nations. The plethora and range of their ‘obligations’ to this equally unelected and unrepresentative body provides a breathtaking scope and opportunity for social engineering.
Consider firstly the composition of the commissioners. Unsurprisingly the majority are female. It is also unsurprising that all, by definition, belong to the progressive side of politics – the classic ‘bleeding heart brigade’. It would be impossible to operate in such a reformist hothouse otherwise.
Two recently retired commissioners – former President Professor Gillian Triggs and Dr Tim Soutphommasane [Race Discrimination Commissioner 2013-18] were, by any political standards, outright activists for their cause and unashamed opponents of Australian governments. Both publicly made little secret of their political beliefs and both delighted in the political fray. We must remember here that both were paid handsomely by the taxpayer to indulge their political beliefs.
Many of the AHRC treaty ‘obligations’ are, in themselves, innocuous sounding - but they are in fact completely intrusive and, used selectively, have had the effect of altering the complete cultural and ethnic fabric of our society. Consider for example the notion of ‘multiculturalism’.
What does the term actually mean? When was the Australian body politik ever asked if it wanted to be ‘multicultural’? Has there ever been a public and open political debate about the subject? How are opponents of ‘multiculturalism’ regarded and categorised? What is the difference between a multicultural and a plural or a multiracial society?
The list of questions that could be levelled are extensive – but have they ever been subject to public scrutiny discussion? No. Has the subject been put to the Australian people? No.
I have treated the subject elsewhere so I will not re-tread old ground. I will however make this critical observation that the Australian peoples and their culture have, without their consent, been enforced to accommodate to all other minority cultures. One of these cultures is ipso facto [by the fact itself] antithetical to the host culture.
Consider the question of refugees – the Australian government is effectively bound by the decisions of an unelected elite as to whom the government may or may not admit into this country. The people of Australia have no say in this matter.
Again, consider the critical question of Islam and Australian society. The civilisations of the West [Christendom] and Islam have been at odds for a long time and for explicable reasons. At the heart of this conflict is not the presumed ‘religious differences’ per se but the deep cultural divide between the two. The Western World has long separated church from state. Islam is locked into its Medieval culture because of the very indivisibility of religion and state.
Australia is a secular society. Freedom of religion has always been assumed. Some accommodation to religious beliefs has always been accepted and those of religious mien are generally respected for their belief. However, when churches have stepped beyond their ‘mandate’ so to speak, the general public has made its position clear.
The problem Islam poses for any Western society is that because of the indivisibility of religion and state, the Mohammedan exercises greater demands upon his host society, to the point of expecting his host culture to conform to his values and expectations. A most obvious and serious example is the question of sharia law. Moreover, Mohammedans, because of their religious-cultural requirements are far less likely to assimilate with the host culture, thereby creating a distinct and socially unhealthy separateness.
Referring back to the point of refugees – any superficial review will confirm that Christians suffer horrendous persecution around the globe. Surely common-sense dictates that we accept Christian refugees first – they will acculturate more readily and so forth. To have done so in the first place would have obviated the politico-cultural problems of trying to accommodate a culture that is, quite simply, antithetical to ours. For this sheer cultural and political lunacy, we may thank the UN and its office in Australia, the AHRC.
But perhaps the most unpalatable aspect of the AHRC is its arrant hypocrisy. It uses the United Nations human rights aspirational apparatus in force against the Australian people whilst blithely ignoring the trenchant refusal of so many other countries to abide by the same apparatus. Real human rights violations occur every day across the globe. These are conveniently overlooked by Australian human rights advocates. Australia by contrast, in the eyes of AHRC, is expected to prove to be the international exemplar.
I ask the question why? Not, I suggest because the elite running the show have any particular humanitarian feelings for the rest of the world, but rather that they are implementing their own, personal visions of what a progressive Australia should look like.
The Australian electorate should be profoundly disappointed, to the point of violent objection, that this unaccountable body acting against the interests of Australian society, is continually supported by Australian politicians.
I reserve my strongest condemnation for the failure of the supposedly conservative leaning politicians for not making their constituents aware of the implications of signing away our sovereignty.
The matter amply differentiates between the ‘people’ and an entrenched political class. It is, I suggest, a further and potent example of the manifest failure of liberal democracy.
It has been my long-held view that the fundament of many of Australia’s internal problems lay, in very large part, in its membership of the United Nations [UN]. As a founding signatory to this institution Australia takes its responsibilities very seriously and, unfortunately, literally.
Drawn up and signed in San Francisco on 26 June 1945, the United Nations Charter commits its signatories to a liberal democratic world ideal. The preamble opens with the portentous:
We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our generation has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and... …to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…
And, in Article 1.3.
We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our generation has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and... …to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…
And, in Article 1.3.
To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinctions as to race, sex, language, or religion.
Several points need be made about this high-minded document.
Firstly, it was the product of the victors of the Second World War, namely those countries, with one notable exception, deeply imbued with the dominant ideology of the time – liberal democracy. This document set in place what became known as the liberal order of geopolitics and diplomacy. Any first-year student of political philosophy will recognise in the document the sentiments of Locke, Paine, Bentham and the United States Constitution.
This document also formed the fundament of what was to become the realist school of international politics. One of the great theorists of this school, Hans Morgenthau, observed in his founding text book  on the subject:
Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. As it distinguished between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted – and few have been able to resist the temptation for long – to clothe their own particular aspirations and actions in the moral purpose of the universe. To know that nations are subject to the moral law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certainty what is good and evil in the relations among nations is quite another. There is a world of difference between the belief that all nations stand under the judgment of God, inscrutable to the human mind, and the blasphemous conviction that God is always on one’s side and that what one wills oneself cannot fail to be willed by God also.
Morgenthau continues by positing the ‘intellectual autonomy’ of the political realist as distinguished from other disciplines such as the economist, lawyer and moralist. This became a founding premise in the liberal notion of international relations.
Secondly, the United Nations Charter has been equally observed by its signatories in the breach as in its concord. This charter has been subject to some of the grossest acts of hypocrisy in the annals of diplomacy. Consider the very ideals detailed above and then consider the modern history [1945-hence] of China; Russia; Eastern Europe; most of the post-colonial states of Africa; the Middle East; Iran; Indo China; Indonesia and South America – all of whom, remember, are signatories.
Consider today, some seventy-four years after the UN’s inception, the activities of most of the countries [all signatories] in the Middle East; Iran; Turkey; the dysfunctional countries of Africa; China’s totalitarian repression of minorities and its growing military and imperial ambitions; the continued tensions between the nuclear powers India and Pakistan; South Africa’s open persecution and killing of whites to say nothing of course about the war of terror prosecuted by Mohammedan extremists against themselves and anybody else.
The United Nations is a legacy of the liberal democratic world view, which, I suggest, is now long past. It was established to reflect the ethnocentric political and moral values of the then dominant world civilisation, being Western Civilisation. Indeed, the very siting of the UN Headquarters in New York provides ample indication of its cultural fundament.
The United Nations Charter provided the world with a yardstick to measure international behavior. It was an imperfect measure but a measure nonetheless and, quite obviously, better perhaps than nothing. The UN provided a vehicle wherein the international community could express itself – in this it has served many worthwhile purposes and has been an agent in preventing some wars; it has been an active agent in providing peacekeeping forces; it has done much good in the field of international health, education and agriculture and, to varying degrees, it has done much good in the provision of international humanitarian aid. It has however also done much harm to its founders.
By this I mean that in reality, the only nations that have ever really adhered to or at least endeavoured to meet their obligations to the UN Charter were those of the liberal democratic order.
These countries adhered in general to its idealist precepts, they met their ever-increasing financial obligations to the ever-increasing bureaucracy and the ever-increasing aid programmes; they dutifully joined the ever-increasing numbers of international committees often chaired by ever-increasing numbers of third-world bureaucrats representing some of the vilest dictators on earth. Moreover, they dutifully signed ever-increasing numbers of protocols committing their nations to all manner of innocuous sounding but binding policies which proved to serve to their complete disadvantage.
All of which has been ongoing for the past seventy-four years under the noses of, but largely unnoticed by, the ordinary citizens and electors of the Western World.
Although the UN as a corporate body is financially dependent upon the United States and other Western countries, its General Assembly is politically in thrall to those forces working against the very idealist fundament of its Charter: namely, those countries outside the once called ‘Western Bloc’. Many of the partisan, blatantly biased and politically charged decisions of this egregious and undemocratic mob verge on the unbelievable. Nonetheless its deliberations are held seriously and accepted largely uncritically by Western diplomats for fear of giving offence.
The growth of the Asian super-economies, the rise of China and India and the decline of the West has changed the geo-political dynamic. As the old liberal order of international relations stumbles into decrepitude, now is the time to review and chart new directions for same. But this is not the object of this essay.
I am concerned here to illustrate that most Western countries have swallowed whole-meal, and to their own detriment, the idealistic cant of the ‘liberal world order’ they created. I further suggest that this is not wholly the fault of inept politicians.
Most Western countries are served by a well-schooled and privileged elite known as the ‘diplomatic service’. It is of course perfectly natural that a country should be represented at international level by well-trained diplomats. It is however a completely different thing for a country to be represented by members of an international cocktail set of globalists. It is only natural that anyone, well-educated and sophisticated, exposed long enough to the nuances of the international language of diplomacy, with an extensive network of friends and acquaintances throughout the world, would become internationalist in worldview. At some point, depending on the home government policy, some dis-arrangement between department and minister is therefore bound to arise.
Diplomats, by the very nature of their being, have refined the subtle arts of persuasion to the point that it takes a most strong minister of character to truly master his or her foreign affairs department. Indeed, after being wined and dined internationally a couple of times, at the taxpayers’ expense, it is easy to succumb to the charms, eloquence and assurances of your departmental ‘hosts’ and, remember, your public servants.
I write by way of example of my direct experiences of Australia’s own Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [DFAT] in Europe and in South-East Asia. I was both witness and unwitting party to the ‘wining and dining’ and manipulation of a then, most senior and unprepossessing, Australian politician in Paris. Elsewhere I have had various other social and business contacts with DFAT. I cannot fault the hospitality and charm of the officers concerned – it was impeccable – but it provided me with insights into their profession.
As noted above, diplomats are well-schooled. All have good university degrees. It is therefore axiomatic that such reflect similar values to their contemporaries in the professions. Given the undoubted reality that academia is today a reflection of the ‘progressive’ side of politics it is understandable that the young diplomatic trainee will be filled with a zeal imbued by his academic training.
He will join an elite department, distanced diametrically from the electorate and well away from direct public scrutiny – a department that has long been known for its separate and distinctive culture. At the end of his first couple of postings he will be well-inducted into departmental protocols and mores. He is well-schooled to play his part in the ongoing ‘Yes Minister’ diplomatic drama.
It might be added that his view of the world, by virtue of his education, his training and experience will, almost by definition, be completely at odds with the average elector and totally at odds with the aforementioned sections of the electorate that hold grievances about the social and political direction their country is heading.
It is of course in the interests of all diplomats to further their country’s interests without ‘rocking the boat’ unduly. Thus, at times, a judicious silence is considered better than raucous protest. In the Australian context this country’s persistent silence on the monstrosity that is Saudi Arabia, the Yemen War, the persecution and slaughter of Christians throughout the world, the dire plight of the white tribe of South Africa et. al. is damningly resounding.
A friend of mine is fond of saying that the problem with Australia is that we want to be liked by everyone. I think he is absolutely correct. The Australian character thrives on praise – we love to be told how nice our country is, how welcoming we are, how good our climate is and so forth. In the military, many decades past, my friend and I well remember parades for various visiting foreign dignitaries who would, on cue, extol the virtues of the Australian serviceman, the Anzac Spirit and the loyalty of this country to whatever alliance he represented. It was embarrassing but also expected of visitors – even military ones.
Much of Australian foreign policy appears to be predicated to this imperative of popular appeasement ergo ‘likeability’, rather than principle. It is also locked into what would seem a completely inappropriate foreign aid programme seemingly designed to further this imperative in the eyes of its United Nations colleagues. Examples abound.
Australia has failed to speak up for the aforedetailed persecution of whites in South Africa. Indeed, in 2019 its High Commissioner to that country, Adam McCarthy tweeted a photo of one of his High Commission staff with his arm around the shoulders of one Dali Mfopu, the National ‘Chairperson Advocate’ of the Economic Freedom Fighters [EEF]. The EFF are a significant minority party in South Africa. Consequent to the 8 May elections in 2019 the EFF won nineteen  seats from the African National Congress, increasing its share of the national vote from 6.3. percent to 10.79 percent. The party manifesto openly repudiated the 1994 accords that established the multi-racial state South Africa; its first political pillar is:
Expropriation of South Africa’s land without compensation, for equal distribution in use
The remainder of the manifesto thundered at the alleged iniquities being perpetrated against blacks in South Africa. It was an openly racist document in which its leader called for widespread constitutional change, economic nationalisation, all land to be under the ‘custodianship of the state’ and, as befitting its modern socialist tendency – it even contained an extensive section on LGBT matters.
Moreover, the EFF has privately advocated the killing of whites, but on 5 March 2019 its political leader, Julius Malema generously conceded that he didn’t want the white population killed – he just wants them to serve the black population.
That the Australian High Commissioner should think that tweeting a photo of one of his staff arm-in-arm with a leader of such a race-hating mob as being a ‘good thing’ speaks volumes about the state of our diplomatic corps.
Australia remained curiously silent over the Huawei dispute between Canada and China - one would have thought it should be steadfast in its support of its political cousin; it has been silent over the homicidal megalomania of Philippines President Duterte; Australia has been significantly silent on the subject of persecution of Christians around the world. Indeed, despite strong lobbying by its own Christian groups, Australia does not discriminate in favour of Christian refugees – indeed, the opposite seems to be true.
Australian politicians have consistently practiced studied ignore at matters closer to home such as corruption and violence in Papua New Guinea and the Australasian region. For decades it neglected the South Pacific despite the early rumblings of discontent in Fiji followed by the first of four coups d’état in 1987 [which I am on record as foreshadowing]. It continues to ignore the plight of Tibet. The non-Chinese minorities in China have been completely forgotten by Australian politicians who appear only too anxious to sup from the seemingly overfull economic rice bowl that is China. The double-dealings of Pakistan in Afghanistan and its dubious role in the farcical war on terror are completely overlooked, and India’s military arms race has caused no public admonishment. Finally, the unconscionable behavior of most African governments towards their subjects is treated with disregard by Australian foreign ministers.
Indeed, these species of foreign policy dilettantes love to swing around the globe, to and from an endless round of conferences, being wined and dined in the most fashionable and salubrious of locations at taxpayers’ expense. Whilst doing so, these privileged eminences are wont to hand out billions of taxpayers’ dollars to undeserving recipients all in the name aid – or more accurately - buying Australian goodwill. A review of Australian foreign aid recipients is instructive: it includes India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Sub-Saharan Africa [$121 mil], the Latin and Caribbean region, Palestine [$43 mil.2018Est] and of course the devastated trio of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
Let us briefly review this list. Why are we sending aid to Pakistan and India? Both of these have sufficient funds to maintain and increase huge military establishments – not the least the huge financial resources to develop, build and maintain nuclear weapons.
Why are we sending aid to Indonesia? That country has sufficient resources to equip itself with a $1.5 billion squadron of Russian made SU-35 fighter jets together with other arms and military hardware. [Note: Russia is Indonesia’s largest military supplier].
Why is Australia sending money and resources to Sub-Saharan Africa? It is not within our sphere of interest and never has been. The same may be said of the Caribbean region and Palestine.
The tragedies of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan were, in part, of our own making and this country has to accept its obligation in their restitution.
To conclude this overview of Australia and the United Nations, I take issue with the founding premise of that organisation - it is apparent to me that the ideals of human rights, gender equality and indeed the equality of man were not, never have been, and will not be universally shared by mankind. Differing cultures have differing views on these matters, particularly in the context of today’s post-modern and relativist Western society. Who is to say they are incorrect or otherwise? It was perhaps the supreme arrogance of our Western civilisation to attempt to impose this order on the world.
However, we did and we are now reaping the dubious rewards. Our political representatives and diplomats have on our behalf signed numerous UN ‘protocols’ and trade agreements requiring us to accept the unforeseen consequences of varying ‘equalities’ embodied therein.
To this end, I take some delight in a supreme irony in the following hiatus:
On the one hand our modern progressive culture asks: Who’s values are more correct than another’s? Why should homosexuals not be allowed to marry? Why should we be stuck in gender stereotypes? Why shouldn’t we allow all refugees into our country? Why shouldn’t we have a huge open lovely multicultural society? Why shouldn’t Islamists be allowed to practice their faith in full? What right have we to dictate to the world our values? And so forth.
Yet, on the other hand, we laud the United Nations and all its doings despite it having imposed upon, and continues trying to impose upon the world, a value-laden charter of obligations drafted by the very civilisation that we are hell-bent upon devaluing if not destroying. Our own!
 ‘Charter of the United Nations’. In Morgenthau, H. Politics Among Nations. Alfred Knopf. 1973 ed. Appendix. P.554.
 Morgenthau, Hans. Politics Among Nations. Alfred Knopf. New York. [Fifth Edition] 1973. P11.
 Twitter.Adam McCarthyAU@AuHCs 2 February 2019.
 Morken, Ben. ‘South African Elections 2019: widespread fury and big gains for the EFF’. In Defence of Marxism. 13 May 2019. www.marxist.com/south-africa-elections-2019
 Our Land and Jobs Now. 2019 Election Manifesto. EFF. www.scribd.com/document/EEF-election manifesto
 ‘Whites Should Serve Blacks’. RT News. 5 March 2019.
 DFAT. Where we Give Aid. Htps:///dfat.gov.au/aid/where-we-give-aid
 ‘What’s Next for the Indonesia-Russia Fighter Jet Deal?’ The Diplomat. 16 February 2018. thediplomat.com/2018/02
 Conventions; codes of behaviour; mutually accepted rules.
Another well argued position, I will send you an email with some commentary . Cheers Sam
I guess for some people compiling a commentary that a layman finds too complex to decipher, is an achievement. I'll pass on this one John
My view as well Sam! Cheers.
08.11 | 06:21
The Australian community is in for a world of long overdue pain. It is wholly its own fault for which I have nil sympathy.
08.11 | 06:15
Thanks indeed for the comment. I do agree that we badly need to 'clean out the swamp'. Trump certainly stirred those fetid waters.
08.11 | 05:22
I agree with the general thrust of your comments but the Australian community believes the governments can deliver without pain and there will be a lot of pain up ahead.
07.11 | 11:17
Nice job on the essay John, but regardless of his positions, Dutton is too much a cretin of the past, he also looks like the walking dead. We don't need more career politicians, we need a Trump.