Culture warriors refuse to admit defeat!

Dunno if anyone else is still reading the op/ed pages of The Australian post-election. There was quite a bizarre piece in there today from Tom Switzer, the op/editor himself, which Guy Rundle characterised as an application for his own job.

The article is the usual construction – brave put-upon conservatives telling the unpopular verities etc etc to fashionable opinion etc etc. The aim is to make any sacking look like a silencing.

The truth is otherwise, which is why Switzer is worried – News Ltd has run a quasi-hysterical series of campaigns over the past years, around the elites etc, and allowed blatant spinning to infect their news pages.

The result, in terms of an impact on public opinion, has been virtually nil. “Australia is a more conservative place than it was before Howard,” Switzer opines.

Rundle goes on to refute that, citing social attitudes on abortion, Family First’s miniscule vote, the fact that there’s stuff on the telly that would have “caused conniptions” in years gone by, etc, etc. He argues, and it’s an argument that has been made quite a number of times at this blog too, that Howard was the last obstacle to a recognition that change actually has come. And he makes a point that’s struck me as well – the main reason for reading (and getting angsty about) the writing of the likes of Albrechtsen or Pearson was their closeness to power – something that faded away in an instant when Howard departed.

In that environment, the Switzer-gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight are going to be useless, because they have no dialogue with the times – a la JS Mill, they are the “second rate minds who are always against the spirt of the era”. Albrechtsen used to be interesting to read because she was obviously influencing the government. Who’s going to read this mad maven now, banging on about judicial activism, and fiendish feminists?

Sydney Uni Politics Professor Rodney Tiffen has an interesting piece on a similar topic at Australian Policy Online – the dissonance between the editorial endorsements from the majority of News Ltd papers for Rudd and their content and slant. Noting the “long history” of Murdoch aligning the editorial line and the tone of reporting and commentary in his papers, Tiffen observes:

But what we have in the 2007 Australian election is a historical novelty and an intriguing conundrum. The Murdoch press was generally biased against Labor but several of his papers editorially endorsed a Rudd government (as we predicted they would a month ago on APO). The Australian, Daily Telegraph and Courier-Mail all advocated a vote for change, while the Herald Sun and the Advertiser stuck with the coalition.

Throughout the campaign the front page of the Australian looked as if it had been dictated by Liberal Party headquarters, except that the Liberals would probably have been a bit more subtle. The major Murdoch tabloids were also generally pro-Coalition. If anything, they went slightly counter to their eventual editorial stances, with the Melbourne Herald Sun giving Labor a better run than the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

His analysis of this seeming conundrum is very interesting indeed:

Murdoch’s interests are so intertwined with government policies and regulations that he cannot afford to be totally offside with any government that is going to be in power for some time. So News Corporation can now claim that it gave support to those politicians they will be dealing with, and hope that they will overlook just how belated and grudging and equivocal that support was.

Another is a combination of commercial and journalistic imperatives. These papers pride themselves on being on the popular pulse, voicing public concerns, reflecting society back to itself, and indeed have the capacity to influence public opinion. But despite their populist posturing, they are more out of touch than the anti-Howard “elites” they so frequently rail against. Despite their desperate appearance of finally jumping on the bandwagon, all their instincts had been the other way.

Two conclusions should not be lost sight of. Labor won this election without any help, and in the face of some hindrance, from News Limited, and so the government owes the company precisely zero. Second, the Murdoch press has exposed itself as being out of touch with public opinion, and with a more limited capacity to influence it than they might have imagined. Its senior ranks are so dominated by conservative ideologues that this colours all their views of politics. This long ago started to damage their professional credibility, but of more interest to their boss may be the fact that now it is also increasingly threatening their commercial performance.

In light of that, I wonder if Rundle isn’t spot on:

What you need in these times is one such contrarian columnist, not eight, with the rest talking closer to where people actually are. If Switzer and Mitchell don’t clean house, someone will.

The other reason these guys are under the hammer is, of course, because they failed. Paradoxically for a bunch of people with a lot of time for Karl Popper’s “The Open Society and Its Enemies” they forgot the signal message of that book – dictatorships fail, because they substitute propaganda for information, and thus have no way of informing themselves about the true state of reality.

News and Co surrounded Howard and Co with the delusion that the ex-PM represented Australia’s distilled essence back to himself – obscuring the degree to which he had already been shucked, like a used peanut shell, with fatal consequences.

Will King Rupert keep these bozos on? Would you?

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Posted in media, politics
66 comments on “Culture warriors refuse to admit defeat!
  1. paul walter says:

    What’s there left to say, after a comprehensive summary like that?
    Well done.

  2. kimberella says:

    Cheers! They’re both good pieces, so I didn’t think I needed to do a lot more than quote them and relate them!

  3. Graham Bell says:

    Kimberella:
    Karl Popper was right ” ….dictatorships fail, because they substitute propaganda for information, and thus have no way of informing themselves about the true state of reality”.

    However, it would be a mistake to assume that the effect of all the propaganda on public opinion has been virtually nil. It may not have caused dramatic changes every time but it has been the wallpaper, the ever-present backdrop to conversations and opinions among ordinary people.

    Just imagine what opinions and views would have been made if all that bare-faced propaganda – day in day out – was absent. Imagine, too, what it could be like if we had a vigorous and diversified news media.

    Don’t think the effects of so much propaganda over so long a period will vanish overnight either. For example: just look at how persistent are anti-Aboriginal attitudes, the ones manufactured specifically to justify the theft of land; not the more general ones arising from racial and cultural difference. [Hope you don’t mind me exceeding Larvatus Prodeo’s 3 paragraph rule here].

  4. kimberella says:

    But I think anti-Aboriginal attitudes far predate the Windschuttles of the world, Graham. And on the land issue. The thing with all this is that it only strikes a chord when there’s something there to strike. I still don’t think that Albrechtsen’s nonsense, for instance, would have had an iota of influence on public opinion generally, and I think as Rundle and Tiffen argue, we’re seeing how vapid the claim to exercise that influence really is.

  5. mick says:

    Switzer’s piece is very odd indeed. I like that he used that classic technique of starting the column with a quote from a straw-leftie. Seriously, Mitchell should be looking to clear house sometime soon.

    Do you think Switzer really believes that keeping Albrechtson in a job is an issue of free speech?

  6. Graham Bell says:

    Kimberella [4]:
    Those attitudes were around well before Windhuttle was even born. That’s my point: they can be very very persistent indeed. [I did distinguish between two types of anti-Aboriginal attitudes too].

    I don’t think Albrechtsen and her ilk ever had the sort of influence where they spoke and everyone, including the Cabinet, jumped. If they ever did have anything like direct influence then it did evaporate as soon as the TransPacific Poodle lost. Their influence is, and will continue to be, more diffuse and persistent and with the potential to cause distractions …. which is why I used the analogy of wallpaper.

  7. haiku says:

    Devine senior, desperately trying to claim that he is OK with the humiliation of Howard, does rather protest a bit too much:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22882861-31501,00.html

    (And clearly knows nothing about white wine: Australian chardonnay is back, in a big way. For those of us who like burgundy, it never went away, either.)

    On the other hand, Ruth Ostrow has tapped into the thinking of our new LP overlords:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22885463-31499,00.html

  8. haiku says:

    “it” = “chardonnay generally”

  9. Katz says:

    To quote a phrase, the Ex-GG doesn’t need new columnists, it needs the right columnists.

    Switzer is right. A change in government does not necessitate a change in the political orientation of op-ed pages of a particular newspaper.

    The trouble with Switzer’s stable of mouthpieces on the Ex-GG is that they have failed personally. Like remora fish, mouthpieces like Windschuttle and Albrechtsen latched onto the jaws of the grotesque basking shark that was the Howard government. They attempted to steer the course taken by this great slovenly beast. They ate the fragments of carrion food that streamed from the jagged teeth of the vile beast.

    Windschuttle and Albrechtsen, having become the counsellors, flatterers, spin-doctors and pensioners and place-(wo)men of the Howard ascendancy, must take some responsibility for the scene of carnage that is Right Wing politics today.

    No, Switzer must sack Windschuttle and Albrechtsen not because they are Right Wingers. He must sack them becsue they failed. Andthey failed while growing fat and fatuous on government favours.

    Switzer could well replace Windy and Sour Janet with other Rightists who are smart, industrious and hungry, were any persons of that description to be found.

    But Barry, you’d better sack them quick, because only a person in deep denial would fail to recognise that it is either them, or you.

  10. Katz says:

    Er, that should be TOM Switzer.

  11. Paulus says:

    “Labor won this election without any help, and in the face of some hindrance, from News Limited …”

    Well, apart from breaking the AWB scandal (and ultimately having one of their journos write a book about it). And running story after story on Haneef as the Government’s case collapsed. And breaking Mike Scrafton’s allegation that he had personally advised Howard that there were no children overboard.

    In fact, go back to any scandal or crisis in the Howard government about which a post was written here at LP. Then see where the basic information for that post came from. In all probability, there’ll be a link to … you guessed it … The Australian.

    Can’t you be a little nicer to a paper that has fed the anti-Howard brigade so well over the past few years?

    I do agree, however, that it may well be time to refresh the op-ed pages — at all our major papers. Some of the columnists are growing pretty stale and repetitious by now.

    But not just Pearson, Albrechtsen, Bolt and Henderson. Philip Adams, Michael Costello, and The Age’s Kenneth Davidson and Catherine Deveny might also be encouraged to move on.

  12. Paulus says:

    Also, I don’t follow Tiffen’s argument for pro-Coalition “bias” in the Murdoch press. As the main example, he quotes a series of headlines suggesting the election would be closer than expected.

    “This story – best read with the music from Rocky playing loudly in the background – said that the Tele’s Galaxy Poll showed a late swing back, with the government “within striking distance.””

    But how did such articles benefit the Coalition? Most parties want to be seen as the underdog in the lead-up to an election. If they are so far ahead that it would be impossible to plausibly claim underdog status, the fall-back is to say that the election will be closer than people expect. And indeed that was Rudd’s public position when anyone asked!

    Contrary to benefiting Howard, one could argue that the Murdoch headlines were exactly what the ALP wanted to see.

  13. Katz says:

    Paulus, you’re correct about the newsbreaking capacities and role of the Australian. The scoops you mentioned prove that for the Australian a good story trumped any political bias.

    As a battering ram for Coalition propaganda, the Australian was, and is, a puny presence. Its attempts to confect spurious headlines (I recall one where WA figures justified a national spin unfavourable to the ALP) were unimportant because very few people actually read the Australian.

    But again, this is not to derogate the role of the Australian in breaking some stories that were damaging to coalition credibility.

  14. Lyn says:

    There’s a big difference between the sort of investigative reporting the OZ does well, and the opinion columns it passes off as political reporting. As Katz has pointed out, the big names in the opinion game were parasites on a very specific host. Without Howard they’ll either starve to death or find something else to write about.

    Most of them failed to see the difference between conservatism and Howardism. The paper needs conservatives but it’s stuck with Howard devotees.

    Some of them are trying to maintain their relevance by claiming ownership of Kevin. Gerard Henderson of all people. And Paul Kelly who still can’t tell the difference between an economy and a culture.

    None of them have ever been as influential as they’ve been made out to be and certainly not with the demographics who decide elections. If they’re anywhere near as smart as they think they are, they’ll realise they’ve been drinking their own bathwater for a decade. Then they’ll either exit gracefully or resign themselves to being blog fodder.

  15. I agree Paulus, Philip Adams needs to go too. He doesn’t even seem to be trying. Too often his columns seem to be describing the scenery as he drives between the studio and his farm. He should stick to the radio.
    As for the others, no-one except themselves and Howard were remotely interested in the culture wars stuff.

  16. Mark says:

    Guy’s got his job application in. What about Possum, Ken and of course our host here?? Or do we all just move on and let the Oz gaze lovingly into its own navel as it fades further into obscurity and irrelevance.

  17. Guido says:

    In my opinion the strategy for ‘The Australian’ was not to influence the general population (only a small proportion would read it anyway) but through spinning Newspolls, and with its commentariat it was to influence how the press gallery and how the news was reported from Canberra in general.

    This had some degree of success. I heard many times Fran Kelly regurgitating what The Australian wrote that morning. The fact thta while Labor was ahead the polls showed the Coalition being a better economic manager etc.

    I distincly remember when Work Choices was legislated that some journalists who were from the ABC were openly stating that Labor made a major blunder by opposing this legislation because it was obvioulsy some economic masterstroke and it showed Labor as incompetents in the economy! This was straight from ‘The Australian’ line. And how wrong it was.

  18. philiptravers says:

    The Australian as a newspaper, rather than anyone who gets into print, could be even more useful than it is now, but no regular research into using newspaper is actually done, yet newsprint soaks up liquids and breakdowns reasonably quickly. The way forward for the newspaper as something of quality is to accept it is rubbish.. and get on with it. Why argue with Switzer, if you think he is a bloody idiot, it is most likely that you are right. At least, if the newspaper can do more, buying it has some value. I mean reading the right-wingers may exercise your mind criticalLY. Do you really expect mirrors of self can do that!?

  19. Helen says:

    Paulus, I don’t see any reason, besides ageism, for getting rid of Kenneth Davidson. Far from propping up the government of the day, he has written like a loyal opposition (in the absence of the genuine article) pointing out the waste and misdirection of policies in the neoliberal and privatised agenda of both Liberal and Labor governments. As Paul Krugman pointed out recently, the political cycle is just beginning to turn away from those things. As we (hopefully) make some tentative steps towards more of a social democracy and stop bleating, like the Animal Farm sheep, “Pri-vate good! Pub-lic bad!” in our investment and infrastructure, we need Ken more than ever.

    Yeah, I’m a bit of a fan, so sue me.:-)

  20. FDB says:

    “In my opinion the strategy for ‘The Australian’ was not to influence the general population (only a small proportion would read it anyway) but through spinning Newspolls, and with its commentariat it was to influence how the press gallery and how the news was reported from Canberra in general.”

    Agreed Guido.

    I think an additional aim was to make the former (joy of joys!) opposition and various left-leaning commentators too afraid to say anything categorical about social issues for fear of being monstered as a latte-sipping elite. Regardless of the constantly shifting parameters for what this actually means, a huge section of the population still likes to beat on this chimera, and it can’t be fun to have to publically defend your intellect and integrity just for saying something well thought out.

  21. Andrew says:

    This culture wars stuff reminds me of the stories about Japanese soldiers lost in the PNG highlands who didn’t know the war was over.

    Although the analogy is completely the wrong way around – the ‘culture wars’ will never be over, a few doomed souls like the columnists mentioned above, (and dare I say it most of the LP crew) will be forever wandering lost in the culture jungle fighting a war that mainstream Australia didn’t even know had started!!!

  22. Katz says:

    The problem is, Andrew, this culture war determines what ordinary Australians will watch on TV, what their kids are taught at school, how their tertiary colleges will be managed and funded, whether small numbers of Australian soldiers die in out-of-the-way pleces in pursuit of opaque causes, whether abortion is more or less available, whether we will go through the same palaver over the next controversial drug as we did for RU469, and whether or not they feel a little guilty drinking chardonnay or a latte.

    Maybe it’s ok that means of fighting this culture war is a bit boring for the folks, but its outcome shouldn’t be.

  23. Jack Robertson says:

    “Guy’s got his job application in. What about Possum, Ken and of course our host here??”

    Switzer’s Op Ed page can only run pieces that get pitched at him, dudes. In my experience Tom’s happy to have a most things. No-one’s been more OTT at times in attacks than us NHJ-ers, and at times my Webdiary attacks on the GG were virulent. Maybe Tom’s just been enjoying watching me waste my time all these years, but as recently as last month he remained happy enough to consider a ‘NHJ-II’ piece, and as usual seemed to me to do so in genuinely. Accurate or not, any wannabe who starts thinking his brilliant article doesn’t get a run simply ‘coz the editor’s biased against his views is in the wrong game.

    Pick up the phone and ask the Holt Street switch – 9288 3000 – to bang you through to Tom. Give him your best 30 seconds. Betcha he’ll take a look. Then it’s all down to being simply good enough, huh. It’s an intimidating, repetitive, energy-consuming grind to the nobody wannabe…and in my case, usually vaguely humiliating. But hey – welcome to the MSM pro’s constant battle in the big league, I guess.

    Don’t like The Oz Op Ed page viewpoint weightage? Go on, pick up the phone, then. It can’t run our bloggy deathless prose unless it gets to see it.

  24. THR says:

    I’m sure the vast bulk of Murdoch’s rightist culture warriors will be kept on staff, though some of them may have to ‘reinvent’ themselves somewhat.

    The presidency of Clinton in the US did not lessen the rightist sniping in the press; if anything, this intensified, and unified culture warriors by way of a common enemy. I suspect this may eventually occur here also.

    The purpose of the Australian, however, has nothing to do with ‘informing’ the general public about ‘reality’, but rather, is more about creating this ‘reality’, and packaging it for a relatively small few around the nation (mainly business). For that reason, the fawning imbecility of a Sheridan or Pearson is not necessarily counterproductive to the newspaper’s aim, even if ‘reality’ is nowhere to be seen.

  25. Andrew says:

    Katz – I don’t buy that. It’s an incredibly patronising view of mainstream Australia. It conjures up images of the great unwashed flock being herded around by the enlightened thinkers on fringes of the political debate.

    The reality is far different. Australia is a very mainstream centre place – under Howard we drifted to the Centre-right, under Rudd I assume we’ll drift back to the Centre-left. All cool with me – and I suspect the bulk of Australians. The 7% who voted Green and the 7% on the other side who listen to Bolt, Albrechtson et al can continue their culture wars.

  26. clarencegirl says:

    kimberella,
    Saw the Switzer opinion piece and suspected that the ‘someone’ he spoke of was a straw man that he was using to justify The Australian.
    Thanks for the link to Tiffen’s critique – it was well worth the read.

  27. Rogs says:

    well actually no i don’t read ‘the australian’ anymore.

    now that it’s no longer the organ of the ruling party, why bother

  28. monaro says:

    And in the days following the election Labor governments have given the green light to genetically modified crops, announced the privatisation of power generation, ordered the deportation of a group of asylum seekers without the opportunity to appeal, and put a control order on David Hicks.

    So tell me again how the left one the culture wars.

  29. Burton says:

    Maybe there’s hope for us in the U. S. in spite of Murdoch….

  30. kimberella says:

    So tell me again how the left one the culture wars.

    You need to define the culture wars. If there’s one thing that it doesn’t include, it’s economic liberalism which we’ve seen more than enough of from Labor governments for a very long time. Where the punditariat are out of touch is the shrill social conservatism.

  31. Paul Burns says:

    monaro,
    I’m disgusted by the GM crops. We’ll very pay badly for that in the future.
    Hopefully the NSW will stop Iemma from privatising the vatous electricity companies in NSW. That position is utterly shameful.
    The so-called illegal migrants were Indonesian fishermen fishing illegally not refugees. They’re always sent back home. So far as I know all the refugees involved in the Pacific solution,eg Burmese, etc are now on the mainland with refugee status or on Xmas Island having their cases investigated.Rudd has ended the Pacific Solution.
    I would like to hear more of what David Hicks has to say before I comment on the application for a control order, because I don’t know enough to make up my mind, but I don’t think he should have been either imprisoned or silence4d once he got back here. But I suspect he’s a bit of a f***wit.

  32. monaro says:

    From what I understand, they were the families of fishermen seeking asylum on economic grounds:

    The 16 Indonesians rescued off Western Australia and transported to Christmas Island are three fishing families who want economic asylum in Australia because a crackdown on illegal fishing has ruined their livelihoods.

  33. monaro says:

    one won

  34. Paulus says:

    Oh come on Katz, you’re blowing up this term “culture war” to include everything on the government agenda. In which case, why not use the old fashioned word “politics” instead?

    I had always understood “culture war” to include debates about such things as history curricula, arts funding, chaplains in schools, multiculturalism, and so on. Not unimportant by any means, but mostly not part of the mainstream political debate.

    I don’t see how the “culture war” determined what people could see on TV — not even Howard wanted to dictate TV programming. Nor did it have any influence over our overseas deployments, which were all about traditional defence and diplomatic considerations (to be precise, Howard’s view, rightly or wrongly, that small deployments in support of the US bolstered our security under ANZUS).

  35. joe2 says:

    Paul, if you had seen the video of the Xmas Island Centre you would think its scale suggests the howard mob might have been planning to pull the plug on other venues that made up their creepy pacific solution,as well. But the symbolism of its end is good.

    I made the point on another thread about the 16 Indonesians and their claims of Australian boat burning for minor breaches of oz fishing law. Looks to me like they have been given a raw deal to prove Labor is tough on boat people.
    Especially when they go scaring the shits out of everyone on the eve of an election.

  36. Andrew says:

    Paulus – I think that’s what those on the right think the ‘culture wars’ are about – largely identity issues. But the left seems to have turned it more into a debate about broader social values – the ills of consumerism, globalisation etc.

    Frankly – my view, and the view of most of Australia is ‘who cares?’ We don’t think about the rights or wrongs of consumerism when we buy a 50″ plasma rather than a 42″ – we just know that the picture is better on the 50″ and if we can afford it then why not?

    We don’t think about the rights or wrongs of globalisation when we buy a shirt made in China – we just like the shirt.

    We don’t care whether history is taught in chronological order or in themes – it’s history!

  37. joe2 says:

    “I don’t see how the “culture war” determined what people could see on TV — not even Howard wanted to dictate TV programming.”

    Please, Paulus what planet have you been living on? Think massive government advertising and hacks on the ABC board to influence programming just for a start.

  38. FDB says:

    “not even Howard wanted to dictate TV programming.”

    Big Brother Uncut?

    The ABC?

    “I had always understood “culture war” to include debates about such things as history curricula, arts funding, chaplains in schools, multiculturalism, and so on. Not unimportant by any means, but mostly not part of the mainstream political debate.”

    What? Not enough about teh hoons and whether Murali’s a chucker?

  39. Paulus says:

    joe2, State labour governments also believe in massive advertising — more in total than Howard — without people attacking it as a “culture war”. It seems basically an unfortunate fact of life these days. If you live in SA, have you seen Mike Rann’s saturation advertising for his new hospital (which will not be operational for years)?

    As for the ABC board, yeah, I suppose that was part of the culture war — although a rather unsuccessful part in that it doesn’t seem to have affected the ABC in any tangible way.

    In fact, now that I think about it, nothing the Libs did as part of the “culture war” seems to have had any meaningful impact. In which case, why do we get so worked up about it?

  40. FDB says:

    Well that’s the whole point of this post, innit?

  41. joe2 says:

    “In which case, why do we get so worked up about it?”

    Paulus, labor won despite a very biased media. The scary part is that we might have been stuck with the morons forever if Ruppys local experiment had worked. And I would be just as concerned if all media thought Labor shit did not stink.

    The editor of The Age took the position that it was not his role to tell people how to vote. My hope is that Murdoch drops his pushy conservative aggenda and stops pretending that he does not want to influence anything because of having P Adams on staff.

  42. Andrew E says:

    The culture war is all about setting up straw men and knocking them down.

    joe2, where is the person who votes the way the newspaper editorial says? The editorial endorsement seems to involve a polite fiction that nobody says how irrelevant it is.

  43. zoot says:

    It’s a bit late I know but:

    (what if wages were originally too high for a given skill level?)

    Then we should cut Brendan’s pay.

  44. Katz says:

    Katz – I don’t buy that. It’s an incredibly patronising view of mainstream Australia. It conjures up images of the great unwashed flock being herded around by the enlightened thinkers on fringes of the political debate.

    Say what?

    You were the one who said that culture warriors

    will be forever wandering lost in the culture jungle fighting a war that mainstream Australia didn’t even know had started!!!

    i.e., that “mainstream” Australians will be ignorant of the wars for the future of important Australian institutions. At the same time you seem to endorse that ignorance because you see the culture wars as being somehow trivial. (I note that Paulus, though originally inclined to that view, has had second toughts on the matter.)

    The reality is far different. Australia is a very mainstream centre place – under Howard we drifted to the Centre-right, under Rudd I assume we’ll drift back to the Centre-left. All cool with me – and I suspect the bulk of Australians. The 7% who voted Green and the 7% on the other side who listen to Bolt, Albrechtson et al can continue their culture wars.

    Yes Australia is overwhelmingly mainstream. And again, as Paulus has noted, the Howard ascendency changed little, despite trying quite hard. It is interesting that culture warriors of the Right disagree among themselves over this issue. Greg Sheridan says that the Right failed. John Roskam of the IPA asserts that the Right succeeded to a significant degree. They can’t both be right!

    However, Sheridan, Roskam and others all agree that the Right was trying very hard in the Culture wars. And don’t forget that one branch of the Right was the scary, religiously driven Lyons Forum, and the looney religious right of the NSW Liberal Party. These people have a very serious intent. They had to be stopped.

    And I agree with Sheirdan that they were stopped. In the case of the NSW Liberal Party most of the damage they did was self-inflicted.

  45. zoot says:

    oops – wrong thread

  46. Shaun says:

    Piers Ackerman flogs a dead Heiner affair.

  47. mbahnisch says:

    That was going to be a sleeper issue in the election, according to David Flint!

  48. Shaun says:

    A highlight of Crikey’s election coverage were Flinty’s quixotic missals. They just don’t have the same zing now that Rudd is PM.

  49. John Greenfield says:

    Kimberella

    You need to define the culture wars.

    Ever heard of “s/he who asserts, must prove?” You would do well to think before you post, luvvie. 😉

  50. John Greenfield says:

    Paulus

    You have summed-up the mindset of the Luvvie Cultural Warriors beautifully. What they describe as “Culture Wars” the rest of humanity sees as the somewhat more prosaic, “politics.”

  51. gummotrotsky says:

    You need to define the culture wars.

    Well, we could make a start on that task by looking here or maybe here or even here.

    The phrase “culture wars” has been in common usage for a while now, various luminaries (including Tom Switzer) have claimed victory for “The Right”, so I think we’re all pretty clear on what we’re talking about – a confected campaign of outrage against “luvvies” who’ve betrayed our clearly, objectively superior Western culture by embracing the evil (but never clearly defined) “post-modernism”.

    Guess Ray Cassin was on the money – the idiot culture warriors of “The Right” are never going to shut up, if the present evidence of comments on this thread is anything to go by. But that might be a false induction, since blog commenters aren’t paid for their opinions. Deservedly so in some cases.

  52. Katz says:

    So parts of the Faith-based Community now intend to deal with their defeat in the Culture Wars by claiming that the Culture Wars never happened?

    Why, oh why, do they hate reality so?

    Maybe rightists should huddle up to get their own stories straight before they sally forth to take on TEH LEFT (aka, the winners).

  53. David says:

    Janet Albrechtsen has made a particularly precious (even for her) addition to the “don’t sack the conservative columnists” campaign today: http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/janetalbrechtsen/index.php/theaustralian/comments/orwellian_left_quick_to_unveil_totalitarian_heart

    She obviously either hasn’t read, or has failed to understand, Guy Rundle’s piece.

  54. Megan says:

    Has anyone noticed how Paul Kelly is now suddenly an approving fan of Rudd? The guy has no shame. Still, we never got an apology from conservative commentators on Iraq, including of the vilification of those with anti-war views and the witch hunt of ABC’s PM program. So I guess it’s too much to expect mea culpas now. The only “I was wrong” column I remember reading was from the (alas) late Matt Price a few months ago.

  55. Tony D says:

    “She obviously either hasn’t read, or has failed to understand, Guy Rundle’s piece.”

    You mean it’s not all about Janet? Her ego must be crushed

  56. Jack Strocchi says:

    Kim says:

    Rundle goes on to refute that, citing social attitudes on abortion, Family First’s miniscule vote, the fact that there’s stuff on the telly that would have “caused conniptions” in years gone by, etc, etc. He argues, and it’s an argument that has been made quite a number of times at this blog too, that Howard was the last obstacle to a recognition that change actually has come.

    More delusional nonsense on the end of the culture wars from the Larva Prodders. I suppose they have to remain in denial since acknowledging the systemic failures of post-modern liberalism would call into question the utility of their HECS bill accumulate during the time wasted studying liberal arts.

    Rundle’s socially liberal issues dont amount to a hill of beans. Abortion is and always will be a low-intensity conflict. Family First did not exist until four years ago but has a small dedicated following, no doubt connected with the mini Baby Boom.

    The GREENs/DEM vote is 30% down from 1996, this in an era of unprecedented environmental consciousness. Multiculturalism is dead in the water and on the nose in USE. Border Protection is the hot political topic in the USA. The Republic sentiment appears to be in secular decline.

    But at least people can now enjoy porn “on the telly” breakfast, noon and night. The Cultural Left and Economic Right’s save their proudest boast for their pornographic achievements: the masturbation generation comes of age live on broadcast TV. What jerks!

    Also its revolting, but not surprising, to see Rundle giving way to his despotic urges. He called for a purge of the Australian’s right wing columnists, to be replaced with non-right wingers because right wingers “have no dialogue with the times” ie they do not jump on fashionable band-wagons. Since that is the point of conservatism it follows that Rundle is pretty much opposed to conservatives having any mainstream access at all. These are the kind of people who lecture us on liberty.

    Meanwhile back in the real world, the culture war – ie the the conflict over cultural identity, both in general for the majority and specifically over the social status of minorities – continues to flare up. Someone seems to have forgotten to tell the geist that its Zeit was up. A brief overview of a week in the Culture War is illuminating.

    Mackllin has proposedextending Howard’s authoritarian intervention to other states and non-Aboriginals who default on their civic obligations. The saner parts of the ALP know when its time for adult supervision of the loony Left in the territories.

    Noble Park is inlockdown dealing with ethnic gangstas exploiting their status as refugees to terrorise the local community. You cant blame them totally, they have come from a bad place. But their situation is made much worse by the confluence of multicultural policies and subcultural privileges. Both part of the Cultural Left’s program designed to maximise social disaster.

    And in QLD a prosecutor has been stood down because he thought that pack rapists deserved only a slap on the wrist, due to cultural differences in the notion of sexual assault. Apparently the pack rapists were only kidding.

    The common denominator in all three cases is the Cultural Lefts monomaniacal commitment to celebrating and encouraging diversity at all costs. And rape. Lots of rape. And a nods as good as wink in the direction of female genital mutilation. That seems to be the ticket. This from people who pretend to care for women and children.

    None of these events were dog-whistled up from “the GG” or played as a race card by Liberal Party HQ. They bubbled up from a civil society still bamboozled by the ideological garbage and clinging to the institutional wreckage left in the wake of the Cultural Left’s long march.

    I am sure that Howard’s legatees will be rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of so many free kicks in front of goal being set up by their “useful idiots” on the Left. Cripes, being a conservative social democrat in these dopey times is giving me the unpleasant sensation of deja vu.

  57. mbahnisch says:

    The common denominator in all three cases is the Cultural Lefts monomaniacal commitment to celebrating and encouraging diversity at all costs. And rape. Lots of rape. And a nods as good as wink in the direction of female genital mutilation. That seems to be the ticket.

    What offensive crap.

    Also its revolting, but not surprising, to see Rundle giving way to his despotic urges. He called for a purge of the Australian’s right wing columnists, to be replaced with non-right wingers because right wingers “have no dialogue with the times” ie they do not jump on fashionable band-wagons. Since that is the point of conservatism it follows that Rundle is pretty much opposed to conservatives having any mainstream access at all. These are the kind of people who lecture us on liberty.

    I see you’re taking your talking points from the horse’s mouth, Dr Albrechtsen.

    http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/janetalbrechtsen/index.php/theaustralian/comments/orwellian_left_quick_to_unveil_totalitarian_heart

    As Rundle said in reply:

    So no, I wasn’t suggesting eliminating conservatives – simply getting more interesting ones. The problem with Albrechtsen is that she’s ludicrous, and, now boring through repetition. Indeed much of News Ltd’s obsessions proved irrelevant to most Australians, and were always pretty much projective fantasy in any case. Take Planet’s first column out after The Nov 24 Glorious Restoration, on the possibility of a bill of rights. There’s good arguments for and against bills of rights (and I incline to the latter position) but Albrechtsen’s manner is simply to – and sing along if you know it – bang on about the “rights industry”, activist judges etc etc.

    It’s tiresome and irrelevant to the vexed question of how we frame laws, to keep kicking that battered can. The same topics and the same arguments, the same sub-Coulteresque rhetoric going round and round – quite possibly because Albrechtsen has nothing much more to say, and no great intellectual curiosity. Ditto with the Akermans, Bolts, Blairs etc – they’ve seen themselves as shock troops, and the surge failed.

    Does Albrechtsen genuinely believe that suggesting a privately owned media company should dump a columnist to create a better product is totalitarian in impulse? If so she has a pretty inflated idea of her own importance to democratic debate. Alternatively, it’s just rhetoric, which would suggest she hasn’t understood how over all that stuff is.

    As the only national broadsheet, The Australian has the opportunity to have a great pluralist op-ed section, and an unbiased news section. It won’t take that step because its principals lack the courage to have their own ideas challenged on home turf.

    http://www.crikey.com.au/Media-Arts-and-Sports/20071212-Rundle-v-Albrechtsen-Round-3.html

    As for your stuff about the “The GREENs/DEM vote” that’s only a proxy for cultural liberalism in your own mind. The survey evidence about changed and changing social attitudes in Australia refutes you. And what if “border protection” is the “hot topic” in the US? As this election demonstrated, Australia isn’t America.

  58. Katz says:

    Ptecisely.

    Rundle was not demanding a purge by (Ex)-GG management.

    No, Rundle was suggesting a more effective business model for NewsCorp.

    And this:

    The common denominator in all three cases is the Cultural Lefts monomaniacal commitment to celebrating and encouraging diversity at all costs. And rape. Lots of rape. And a nods as good as wink in the direction of female genital mutilation. That seems to be the ticket. This from people who pretend to care for women and children.

    Strocchi’s purulence has finally begun to feed upon itself. Run for your lives. He’s gunna blow!

  59. FDB says:

    Ah, Jack. Truly an ass’ ass.

  60. Jack Strocchi says:

    Comment by mbahnisch — December 13, 2007 @ 12:17 am

    What offensive crap.

    I do apologise if I have offended thee. It just seems striking to me that every other culture war story seems to have a rape sub-text or text. The Clark case, the Western Sydney hate crimes, the indigenous emergency etc. This underlines the contradictory nature of the Cultural Lefts project of reconciling diversity with womens rights.

    mark says:

    Rundle said in reply: So no, I wasn’t suggesting eliminating conservatives – simply getting more interesting ones.

    Rundle is being disingenous when he says he says he “wasnt suggesting eliminating conservatives”. In his Crikey article he urged the Australian to purge most conservatives from its editorial line-up, bar “one such contrarian columnist”, for token purposes. This comment betrays the ideological megalomania and monomania of Cultural Leftists. They are intolerant of dissent. Look at the intellectual lynch mob that descended on Larry Summers and James Watson once they violated political correctness taboos.

    mark says:

    As for your stuff about the “The GREENs/DEM vote” that’s only a proxy for cultural liberalism in your own mind.

    And the other parties which will serve as a proxies for cultural liberalism, who would they be? The ALP? Ha, Ha, Ha. Its been thoroughly whipped into shape by Howard’s successful prosecution of the Culture Wars. Mundine and Rudd support the intervention.

    mark says:

    The survey evidence about changed and changing social attitudes in Australia refutes you.

    That and $2.50 will get you a cup of coffee. The survey evidence is spin by a gaggle of Wets with too much time on their hands and not enough sense in their minds. You learn more about public attitudes by keeping an eye on the street and following the money rather than idly sifting through the tendentious “survey” tea leaves.

    Read the Melbourne Weekly or visit the revived Harlem if you want to know what people of all walks of life are aspiring to: property values. In the major metros no one – black, white or brindle – wants a mini Londonistan or Bedford Stuy springing up next door with typical households sitting on $500 k homes and kids being shunted off to pricey traditional schools.

    Sure there has been some liberalising of public attitudes on soft issues like abortion and gay marriage. But these issues have not been seriously contested by the Cultural Right because they dont have a drastic effect on social functionality.

    I’ll give you porn. The Cultural Left and Commercial Right can claim victory on the unstoppable tsunami of sleaziness and sluttiness that has washed over the public sphere. Its not exactly “freedoms proudest boast” though, is it?

    Public opinion has shifted substantially to the Right on cultural matters over the past decade or so. The high tide of social liberalism has ebbed. Social liberals are a vanishing breed in parliament. MPs have to answer to constituents who are way past giving a free pass to drug addicts, porn peddlers and gang-bangers.

    The fashionable Big Picture ideas of the seventies and eighties have been discredited because their purveyors – people like those on this blog – refused to acknowledge tried and tested wisdom about human nature or learn from failed experiments with social structure. But then incorrigibility to evidence has always been the point of post-modernism.

    The Cultural Right has been making all the running in the high profile issues of border security, national identity, family sanctity, indigenous affinity and ethnic diversity because they have a product that gets results. Mandatory detention is here to stay. The ANZAC legend continues to grow. We are in the midst of a mini-baby boom amongst educated women. The disastrous anomie in remote communities proves the need for authoritative law and order is ingrained in human nature, black or white. Hard core multicultural differentiation is giving way to civic integration as a settlement philosophy in AUS, the UK and CAN.

    Multi-culti is a bust going by the preferences of those aspiring to improved status. Foreign language courses continue their decline in enrollments. Their is negligible native born interest in non-Christian religions. Ethnic fashions are not fashionable. SBS has gone sub-cultural and commercial. High flyers aim to work in London, LA-NYC or some other Asian former colony/entrepot of the Anglo-American empire. Upwardly mobile Asian immigrants seem to have a strange fascination with Presbyterianism.

    And the general populus does not seem enamoured with it either, going by the subject matter in super market mags.

    That does not mean the LN/P are without flaw. The one thing Howard had going for him was his authoritative “corporalism” (family, faith and flag) and more general social conservatism (dont rock the boat, white picket fences relaxed and comfortable etc). His biggest mistake was in IR, Work Choices threatened working families and introduced radical change into an area where tradition has served the majority well.

  61. mbahnisch says:

    You learn more about public attitudes by keeping an eye on the street and following the money rather than idly sifting through the tendentious “survey” tea leaves.

    Says the great social scientist who despises punditry!!!!

    Jack, most of your “evidence” appears to be what the Howard government did and what a lot of right wing newspapers and shock jocks said. Message to Strocchiverse: Howard government defeated. Liberal party trashing his reputation.

    Oh, I’m sorry, I see you discern the mood of the “populus” at the supermarket queue too:

    And the general populus does not seem enamoured with it either, going by the subject matter in super market mags.

    I hope you do so in an orderly fashion and don’t queue jump.

  62. Katz says:

    Does anyone know what phantom Strocchers is attempting to slay?

    Are Londonistan and London, the “high flyers'” destination two different places?

  63. Jack Strocchi says:

    Comment by Katz — December 13, 2007 @ 11:47 pm

    Are Londonistan and London, the “high flyers’” destination two different places?

    Yeah I can really see the with-it twenty somethings in Islington getting around in cloth bags and medieval robes when they slum it in Finchely Park on the weekend. You obviously dont know much about the social geography of London, do you? ROTFL.

  64. mbahnisch says:

    One exists within the Strocchiverse, Katz. The other presumably is visited by Asian Presbyterians with frequent flyer miles who form part of the Anglosphere. Hang on…

  65. Jack Strocchi says:

    Comment by mbahnisch — December 14, 2007 @ 1:21 am

    One exists within the Strocchiverse,

    I will underlook that remark. I guess you are still smarting from having your ass kicked by a part-time amateur in the intellectual competition to see get the best scientific prediction of the federal election result.

    Most observers agree that the blogs hosted the best psephologic analysis of the election. And the record shows that this little black duck made the closest call from the longest range out. This for the second election running.

    So the “strocchiverse” is apparently not so very different from the one that every one else inhabits.

    Until mark gets to the level where he can call the outcomes well before the fact, rather than spin the outcomes after the fact, he will be forever a mere pundit pressing his nose up against the glass.

    I also enjoy refuting Mark’s denialist and delusionist Cultural Leftism, purely as an entertaining past-time.

  66. Katz says:

    Gee, when I was living off Queensway, rubbing shoulders with both members of the Anglosphere and with folks who got around in cloth bags (and in gleaming chauffer-driven Rollers), I must have strayed into another London altogether.

    It’s certainly not the London(istan)s that Strocchers is talking about.

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