Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Australia Day 2015

January 25, 2015

This is our flag. We love it

oz flag 1901
I need to say I love the Australian flag.

I grew up with this flag as have all Australians since Federation, give or take a few points on the stars.

I grew up as an anglo-saxon with strong connection to the United Kingdom. Indeed, living in France for ten years led me to a profound understanding of what it is to have this connection.

Our language, our institutions, our dress, our architecture, our food, our ABC (aka BBC, ha ha), our media and its newspapers, the ugly thick mugs we drink tea out of around the country in universities, schools, city offices, workshops, farms, mines come from England and our mood and temperament does too. Yes, of course we are wonderfully multicultural too, full of Asians, Africans, and Indians —and I married a Sri Lankan — but I don’t know if you have noticed, so is everywhere else in the world, England included !!

And I love all of that too.

However, I resent the obsession, starting with the Bulletin one hundred years ago through to Jonathan Green and guests this very day from six o’clock this morning on their ABC, banging on about the flag, republicanism, mocking the new year’s honours — no mention of leftist barristers scrambling back to QC status — the monarchy, and somehow wanting to continue their adolescent hissy-fit about Australia needing to grow up and becoming more independent and confident when we already have and already are.

A few years ago, I went out and bought an Australian flag cooking apron in protest against the obnoxious decision by the Waverley council not to fly the Australian flag over the Bondi Pavillion in case it made certain people feel unwelcome.

All I want to say is get over it. Jonathan Green, get over it. The ABC get over it. The ALP, get over it. Be proud of our heritage, be proud of our flag. Perhaps you might all prefer to learn to speak Esperanto.

Have a Happy Australia Day.

Cate Blanchett and the modern day Luddites

January 3, 2015

If the scientists have the future in their bones, then the traditional culture responds by wishing the future did not exist.     CP SNOW

Cate Blanchett made her self satisfied, self promoting oration at the ABC/ALP funeral extravaganza only a few weeks ago, where on the television screen I swear her nose grew a few centimetres, explaining the extraordinary benefits she had gained by all the free university education she had received through the Whitlam Government — aka Australian taxpayer — largesse.

On its heels comes another triumphant self-justificatory explanation of the value of an Arts Degree for our national future, nay, the future of humanity, this time delivered at the North Ryde’s Macquarie University Faculty of Arts.

Tim Blair covers the travesty brilliantly:

Blanchett said: “I’d like to posit today that it is the arts that have always been the driver for innovation and exploration. I chose these words precisely because they are always credited to science.”
Quite right. What do scientists know about exploration? We all remember arts graduate Neil Armstrong’s thrilling dissertation on lunar inequality and post-modernism during his landmark 1969 moon tutorial.

You get the drift. It reminds of my rediscovery only a few years ago of CP Snow’s “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution” that I had studied along with so many others in the early 60’s at school.

I very quickly realised in this quote that Snow was talking about the self-indugent narcisistic dreamers of the Left, the culture that disregards and distains wealth creation and industry, a culture with a total ignorance of economics and a culture made up of preachy environmentalists that basically have little understanding of science.

Snow understood the difference between the Arts and Science; the moralising and the creating; the seeming and the doing.

“Most of our fellow human beings, for instance, are underfed and die before their time. In the crudest terms, that is the social condition. There is a moral trap which comes through the insight into man’s loneliness: it tempts one to sit back, complacent in one’s unique tragedy, and let the others go without a meal . . . As a group, the scientists fall into that trap less than others. . . . If the scientists have the future in their bones, then the traditional culture responds by wishing the future did not exist. It is the traditional culture, to an extent remarkably little diminished by the emergence of the scientific one, which manages the Western world . . . It can be said simply, and it is this. If we forget the scientific culture, then the rest of Western intellectuals have never tried, wanted, or been able to understand the industrial revolution, much less accept it. Intellectuals, in particular literary intellectuals, are natural Luddites. . . For, of course, one truth is straightforward. Industrialisation is the only hope of the poor.”

Christian murders top 100,000 a year

December 30, 2014

Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you  — 1 John 3:13 

 No doubt the ALP and the Greens will protest loudly regarding the persecutions of Christians. In Australia we worry ourselves to death about the ‘bad’ feelings we have towards the antics of some of our Muslims and other minorities in this country, terrified of backlashes against them, despising ourselves for our wretched racism and intolerant ‘White Man’ superiority, but somehow fail to notice what is happening elsewhere in the non-White world.

According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular group with members in 38 states worldwide, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination today are directed at Christians.

The US Center for the Study of Global Christianity has estimated that 100,000 Christians die every year because of their faith.

The Washington-based, non-partisan Pew Research Center has said that Christians today face some form of discrimination in 139 countries – almost three-quarters of the world’s nations.

There are Christians in jail for blasphemy in Pakistan.

Churches are being burned and worshippers slaughtered in Nigeria and Egypt, which has seen its worst anti-Christian activity in recent years.

The most violent anti-Christian pogrom of the early 21st century saw upwards of 500 Christians hacked to death in 2008 by machete-wielding Hindus at Orissa in India.

In Burma, Christians are routinely imprisoned and tortured.

Persecution of Christians in China is said to be on the increase.

In North Korea a quarter of Christians live in forced labour camps for refusing to join the cult of the state’s founder Kim Il-sung.


I hesitated in titling the above blog with a quote from the Koran — about it being tolerant and all that. But, then appeared a few days later this powerful piece from Quadrant-Online, Allah-cadabra! Islam’s Hate Vanishes by the excellent Peter Smith.

The article quotes Alexis de Tocqueville, who had studied the Koran a hundred years ago, and concluded:

“I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad,” he wrote.

With the systematic killing of Christians as enumerated above and which passes today almost unnoticed by Western dhimmis, it is a very perspicatious observation by Monsieur de Tocqueville.

American success is a result of experiment not design

December 30, 2014

A free society is one that is willing to place millions of small bets on persons unknown and things unseen.

A fascinating end of year reflection on the sometimes forgotten creative power of American individualism and freedom comes from Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal. Essentially based on private property rights, Stephens asks what we might consider to the be the most influential innovations in the early 21st century, the equivalents of the Model T Fords, the Wright brothers and Penicillin in the last century?

On the top of his list is fracking. It has made America the world’s leading oil and gas producer, turned the energy markets upside down and paradoxically, reduced the US’s greenhouse gas emmissions to below 1995 levels. And for good measure, it has undermined the success of renewables. .

Fracking happened in the U.S. because Americans, almost uniquely in the world, have property rights to the minerals under their yards. And because the federal government wasn’t really paying attention. And because federalism allows states to do their own thing. And because against-the-grain entrepreneurs like George Mitchell and Harold Hamm couldn’t be made to bow to the consensus of experts. And because our deep capital markets were willing to bet against those experts.

This is a paean to free markets, individualism and anarchic creativity.

Innovation depends less on developing specific ideas than it does on creating broad spaces. Autocracies can always cultivate their chess champions, piano prodigies and nuclear engineers; they can always mobilize their top 1% to accomplish some task. The autocrats’ quandary is what to do with the remaining 99%. They have no real answer, other than to administer, dictate and repress.
A free society that is willing to place millions of small bets on persons unknown and things unseen doesn’t have this problem. Flexibility, not hardness, is its true test of strength. Success is a result of experiment not design. Failure is tolerable to the extent that adaptation is possible.

This is the American secret …We are larger than our leaders. We are better than our politics. We are wiser than our culture. We are smarter than our ideas.

An enlightened Q&A

December 18, 2014

A delicious unease and embarrassment in the studio at Q&A

Just occasionally one tunes into this leftist stacked and undemocratic debate on ABC’s Q&A with Tony “Can I Interrupt You” Jones. One can never tell what surprises might be in store.

The show on the 24th November started out inauspiciously with predictable topics — political lies, the government narrative, Rupert Murdoch, and understanding terrorism — and the loudest and smuggest panellist ever seen on the show: the self-proclaimed Marxists and passionate spokesman for animal rights, James “He-who-dares-to-be-an Artist” Cromwell. He is an American actor, here in Australia to appear in David Williamson new play about Rupert Murdoch.

Other panellists were Noel Pearson, Chairman, Cape York Partnership; Amanda Vanstone, Former Liberal Senator; Holly Ransom, Youth Advocate and Co-Chair G20 Youth Summit; and Waleed Aly, Host of RN Drive and ABC in-house expert on Islamic terrorism.

With this glum line up, and dread in heart, there was a surprise performer nevertheless, Noel Pearson.

Cromwell, after giving a particularly sneering run-down on Rupert Murdoch’s multiple short-comings — things like supporting racists, bigots and war-mongers — Tony Jones turned to Noel Pearson and suggested, in fairness, that he might have a different take on Murdoch. Well, he certainly did, and Pearson became the surprise performer of the evening with views we had never heard expressed before on the ABC.

He went straight to it, and the more he went on, the more an eerie silence filled the studio.

Yeah. I mean, without the support of The Australian over the last 15 years, I don’t think we would have made the ground we have in Indigenous affairs. I think a reorientation in Indigenous affairs was necessary and, quite frankly, The Australian was the only national media vehicle that got behind that. I also think that in prospect, such as with constitutional reform, recognising Indigenous Australians, that quite frankly, Rupert Murdoch is probably one of, I would say, five or six people who are absolutely key to a successful referendum. I would count Paul Keating and John Howard as the other two white Australians who are key to that success, as well as Patrick Dodson and Lowitja O’Donoghue. So, I understand the whole critique of News Corporation and Murdoch and so on but when it comes to Indigenous affairs in this country, Murdoch has a history that goes back to the Stuart case for the Adelaide Advertiser in 1959, the fight against the death penalty for Max Stuart and his flagship paper, in particular, has been completely assiduous in its support of what I would say is the right set of radical centre politics. Now, that might not be beautiful music to the ears of people on the left but I would argue that the radical centre policies that we are trying to prosecute here are absolutely essential for Indigenous people.

After recovering from this enormous elephant in the room, Cromwell blathered out a feeble:

“Well, you know, I’m playing a character called Rupert Murdoch who has this journey in the play. It’s not Rupert Murdoch. I have no idea what goes on in Rupert Murdoch. I don’t understand this. His voice certainly is louder than anybody else’s voice …[???]

He finished this part of his diatribe by talking about the Native Americans, ‘ripped off’, dominated by the the ‘Anglos who surround them’ and appealed for the need of a dialogue for them. “Everybody has to have a voice”.

Pearson then explained very calmly what it felt like not to have a proper voice.

Go Noel:

Well, some of our most gut-wrenching fights for the rights of our people in relation to land and the ability of our people to develop and have employment and so on have been supported by Murdoch’s papers solely. Not a word from the ABC. Not a word from Fairfax. The Murdoch press has argued for our right not to live in poverty and they’ve supported us in the fights. They’ve also supported justice for deaths in custody, the Mulrunji case in Palm Island. The Australian newspaper left every other outlet for dead in advocating Mulringi’s case in the death in custody at Palm Island. So, I detect in Murdoch, and I have met him a number of times, I detect basic Australian fealty to the Indigenous people. There is a human being under the mogul and I think that whatever he might do in the United States, the way in which he has influenced his outlets here in Australia, I can’t be more thankful for the support they give us and our causes. People might not agree with the causes I advocate but they are causes about land rights, human rights but also about welfare reform and economic development. We’ve got to have both and we’ve got to combine those two things in an intelligent way because it can’t just be that we live off a leftist prescription and abandoning the right’s prescription. We have got to bring the two together.

What a brilliant reply. What an iconoclastic view for our ABC and its audience. There was a palpable sense of embarrassment and silence in the studio.

The caravan moved on eventually to the tricky problems concerning our Muslim minority and terrorism. The question from the floor was about whether or not the Government had done enough to understand the point of view of these people or is our reaction to ISIS simply producing ever more radicalised individuals?’

After some unsatisfactory waffling from the ABC’s Waleed ‘Nothing-to-See-Here’ Aly, Tony Jones at this point turned to Noel Pearson with a beautiful slime question, the quality for which he is an expert:

I’d actually quite like to hear from Noel Pearson on this. It is not a subject we often hear you talking about but it’s occupied a huge amount of space in The Australian newspaper, for example, which you obviously read.

Noel decides to talk about Assimilation and the Enlightenment. Pure gold.

I can’t speak directly to it. I can only speak about my thinking about assimilation. I came upon the idea that, you know, assimilation is a bad thing. It has been utterly opposed by Indigenous people. We don’t want to lose our identity, religion, culture, traditions but there is one thing in which – in respect of which a process of assimilation is unavoidable and that is assimilation to the enlightenment. And I think the problem we are grappling with in Australia, as throughout the West, is that the enlightenment has been conflated with kind of western culture, white fellas. Associated with white fellas, when the enlightenment was a human achievement. It wasn’t a western achievement or a British achievement or an English achievement. It’s a human achievement contributed to by people from the Arab States and China and India. All over the globe have contributed to the enlightenment and I think we’re on a wrong course here in Australia when we insist on Muslims assimilating on the basis of “Well, you’ve got to be like the white fellas of Australia” when, really, the essential – and the same goes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The only assimilation, if I might use that very untrusted word – the only assimilation that should ever be a kind of requisite of citizenship, is assimilation to the enlightenment.

TONY JONES: And what do you do when something – a phenomenon pops up like ISIS, which is sort of the antithesis of the enlightenment?

NOEL PEARSON: Yes, and absolutely it’s got to be opposed and I think that but the way in which we deal with our own citizens who might be attracted to radical ideologies like that is not to hector them about the superiority of the white enlightenment but the human achievement of the enlightenment, which is as much a heritage of Muslims and Indigenous Australians as it is for Anglo Australians.

An outstanding night for Q&A and for the clear headedness of Noel Pearson.

Barrie Cassidy does not understand balance

February 20, 2011

Not quite crocodile tears … but nearly

Barrie Cassidy still does not understand what bias is. He complained last week in a letter to The Australian of being treated dishonestly, misleadingly and unfairly.

That he criticised the ALP at least as much as the Liberals is a common argument in the ABC. They hit the Liberals and they hit Labor. They hit the Liberals from the left and that is understood. But almost always, they hit the ALP from … err, the left of the ALP. And this is the game Barrie plays. This has been the game the ABC has been playing since Hawke took Australia to the first Gulf War.

Another instance is green policies. The ALP is never green enough for the ABC, just as refugee policies are never compassionate enough. Barrie was all for compassion for the nine year old boy in Sydney, but that compassion would never extend to questioning why the nine year old boy’s parents died in the first place, or how many millions of other potential refugees, who waste away in the vilest conditions in refugee camps throughout the world, will never get the chance to come to Australia … because of smuggled boat people. When, for instance, will the ABC commentators start insisting on questioning the Gillard government’s inability to stop the boats,  and the drownings?

A letter in reply to Cassidy’s dummy spit suggested that “when Barrie dares to have three conservatives on the same day to discuss politics, maybe then his feigned hurt at being called biased can be taken more seriously.”

That would be an interesting excercise, but more importantly, the ABC does not even understand what the important issues are, and so never really asks the right questions. Take for instance this morning on Insiders. They discussed multiculturalism, but as Andrew Bolt correctly points out, the media does not even understand the debate it is trying to stop, and refuses in effect to discuss the malaise and disquiet growing within Australia, or indeed why Chris Bowen is suddenly talking up multiculturalism.

However, with more genuinely representative journalists — by this I mean those that represent mainstream views — Barrie might just be confronted a little more with what it means to be balanced.

The National Curriculum: A Critique

February 16, 2011

How to deprive our children of their heritage

A timely and invaluable monograph, The National Curriculum: A critique, has just been released by the Institute of Public Affairs in the context of their ongoing Foundations of Western Civilization Program. As Chris Berg, the editor, says in his introduction,

The release of the federal government’s national curriculum gives us an opportunity to take stock of how Australia sees itself, its role in the world, and its position in the grand sweep of history – in other words, how it imagines itself not just as a nation, but as part of a civilisation.

Alas, the way Australia sees itself, according the analysis of the writers in this book, is pretty dismal. It would appear that almost all the conventional and traditional understanding that most of us have for the origins of the uniqueness of Western Civilisation and the qualities that Australia has inherited and shares with other western societies, is almost completely absent. Worse, this understanding and these qualities appear to be wilfully and deliberately ignored in this shiny new curriculum. Antonio Gramsci in his grave would be thrilled beyond belief. Conservatives should be horrified.

The book is organized as a set of six essays on particular areas of the syllabus by six writers.

Greg Melleuish takes a swipe at the history syllabus and concludes that it is a mishmash of disconnected study areas with no “organizing principle”, leaving the subject areas open to arbitrariness and prejudice. In this way, year nine students can choose in depth studies of the Ottoman Empire followed by Polynesian expansion, followed by a study of Spanish conquest. This leads, as Melleuish puts it, to human history of the past ten thousand years reaching its climax with AC/DC and Kylie Minogue.

Richard Allsop takes a closer look at Australian History, announcing the sad news that in less than 30 years Victorian students taking Year 12 history has declined from 42 percent to 5 percent. It seems students like facts. This syllabus wants to focus on “method rather than substance, on developing skills rather than imparting knowledge”. Australian exceptionalism is ignored, or avoided –– forget that Australia was, before Federation, one of the richest countries on Earth.

Augusto Zimmermann takes to task the way the syllabus ignores concepts like the separation of powers or the Westminster system, and only passingly touches on the Magna Carta, the 1688 Glorious Revolution or the American Revolution. Unsurprisingly, the curriculum will thus give students the impression that freedom and human rights only began with the United Nations.

Barry Spurr shows how English has been corralled into po-mo gibberish. Spurr finds the mandated imperatives in the new English curriculum as “platitudinous, philosophically vacuous-unsubstantiated feel-good rhapsody”. He astutely observes that the academic study of English language and literature –– the discipline of English –– has been “transmuted into an agent of social change”. Discipline in the study of language is absent. Further, Spurr sees the gutting of the greatest poets as “cultural philistinism, indeed barbarism on a grand scale.”

David Daintree tackles the issue of our Christian heritage and the importance of the Bible as a reference point to our cultural literacy. The most perverse aspect of this new syllabus is that over the 2000 years of European history, Christianity and its contribution is not specifically mentioned; as Daintree observes, there is “deliberate, pointed, tendentious and outrageous silence”.

To finish off, Julie Novak gives us an analysis of the failure of the new curriculum to explain Australia’s prosperity by excluding any explanation that involves free markets, enterprise or the capitalistic system. It reminds this reviewer that this tendency has already happened with disastrous results in France and Germany. Novak finds the new curriculum does not recognise the role economics plays in our historical development and when mentioned is largely negative. She concludes that students will not be able to understand our economic achievements of the past, nor those of the present, and will be “unable to capitalise on the exciting economic opportunities that lie ahead”.

This book is important. Its aim is to look at the national curriculum and to see how much it explains the foundations of Western Civilisation to our children. Clearly, it fails. If it is not stopped or changed, we will fail our children utterly in developing their understanding of themselves and their society.

This review first appeared at  Quadrant Online

Buy The National Curriculum: A Critique here…

Christmas book reading

December 15, 2010

Some reading suggestions for the holidays

The Nature of Things, by the first century BC philosopher, Lucretius is a delightful, poetic and contemplative book, ideal for restoring the spirit over Christmas. It is a wonder to behold. Set out in rhyming couplets that capture the spirit of the original, Lucretius was able to effectively flag, one thousand years before the Enlightenment, the importance of disinterested observation in discovering the laws of nature and the nature of Man.

You can get check out some of my other suggestions here, and more ideas for books from from Quadrant Online contributors here.

Agora – a film review

November 25, 2010

A promising film spoilt by political correctness

The promises made about this limited release film Agora by director Alejandro Amenabar, showing in Australia at the moment, were intriguing. The subject, Alexandria in the forth century AD at the time of the destruction of the famous library — the “Axial Age”, or, in the words of Karl Jaspers, ‘the most deep cut dividing line in history’ — seemed pretty promising and ambitious. Central to this film is one of feminism’s archetypal historical heroines, Hypatia, a philosopher and mathematician, grappling with the movement of the orbs of the heavenly bodies.

The film, one imagined, was to deal with the complex sets of interactions between the Judaic tradition, the propagation of the Christian message of St Paul, the Roman world and its Law, the decline and virtual disappearance of Hellenism with the gradual withdrawal from Aristotelian thinking, and the eclipse of the Hellenistic values that accompanied the fall of Rome and the subsequent plunge into the ‘dark ages’. It was what the enthusiastic ABC film review Margaret Pomerantz hailed as, “a rare film about something”.

The portrayal of Alexandria was physically fascinating, with a wonderfully convincing mixture of the Roman and the Egyptian, and the collision of their cultural values. There were delightful insights into the liturgy, vestments and character of the early Pauline church. Nevertheless, there was something disconcertingly uninvolving and unconvincing about the texture and narrative. For instance, it contrasted poorly with the splendidly visceral portrayal of the city of Rome in the film Gladiator, and had a strangely total absence of dramatic tension in the plot development.

A predictable dread about the film, as promoted in its advertising, was the inevitable potential for political correctness. The ingredients were all there. There was the fashionable, anti-Christian sentiment that painted Bishop Cyril of Alexandria as an irresistibly self styled Taliban leader, and the inevitable temptation to portray Hypatia as an unyielding and archetypally smug feminista with a rampant and satisfying dose of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. So it came to pass. What could, with generosity, be considered to be a cunning allegorical warning against present day Islamic terrorism in Europe and America, wasn’t really the film’s intention, or the director’s.  The film safely fell on the side of reactionary Christian bashing, including a pointed quote from St Paul about the importance of silencing women. No attempt was made to suggest that these views would have had their origin in the prevalent Jewish Synagogue Regulations of the time. The film’s treatment seems to suggest that these 2000 year old Christian values are more reprehensible that those of current Islamic sharia values that the West is feebly yielding to today. This lack of clarity thus manages to portray a fatuous anachronism. The implications are nasty.

Most disappointing is that the ‘ideas’ part of the film end up being trite. The endless ruminations and discussions by Hypatia, played, incidentally, utterly unconvincingly and blandly by Rachel Weisz, about the movements of the planets, with ‘learned’ references to Aristarchus, sounded more like a polite and earnest discussion of a ‘dangerous idea’ on Jennifer Burns’ First Tuesday Book Club. Aristarchus, along with other remarkable figures like Eratosthenes, Hypparchus and Posidonius had nailed the actual physical dimensions and movements of our solar system accurately hundreds of years before.

We should have been forewarned. The Pomerstratton team gave the film four and four and a half stars respectively, so politically correct, safe and predictable it inevitably was. For all its admirable qualities and the attempts to deal with one of the most truly fascinating periods in history, it ended up, as one reviewer put it, as “an overlong school trip to the planetarium, followed by a Romans-in-togas play in the gym”. But worse, it failed to see itself, judging by the reviews and commentary, as a powerful allegory concerning the threat of Islamic fundamentalism on our own doorstep today. A truly wasted opportunity.

Muslim veil deceit earns six months prison

November 18, 2010

Dishonesty and identity


A Sydney Muslim who was pulled over when driving and then  claiming falsely that the police officer tried to forcefully remove her face veil, has been sentenced to six months jail.

At a time when there is a national groundswell of annoyance and  indignation at Muslim women hiding their faces in public and playing the ‘religious sensibility’ card, this is a timely outcome. However, it must be stressed that it is a sentence given for knowingly making a false declaration.

Apparently, the woman went to the police station to sign a statutory  declaration in which she made her false declaration. She then went on to claim that it was not she who had signed it — she was wearing a hijab at the time.  Her complaint was rejected with Magistrate Rabbidge who said the signature on the declaration was almost identical to that on her driver’s licence.

The incident nevertheless puts a focus on the silliness of our appeasement to religious sensibilities when it comes to identity, and the expectations almost all of us have of openness in our society. In a court case in Perth recently, the judge insisted that a Muslim woman, a key witness, had to appear without her veil. However, he accepted the humiliation of dhimmitude by banning male journalists from his court.

The absurdity of this reality is eloquently illustrated in this mock licence from New Jersey [above]. As is now being realized in Europe, even apart from legal considerations, we all like to know who we see in front of us. Covering up is nasty and makes no sense, and certainly ill serves the Muslim community.


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