Wednesday, July 20, 2016
A new Leftist horror coming to Australian education
The press release below is fairly bland and cautious but the Australian organization concerned is an acknowledged branch of the "Ashoka" organization. And if you read here you will see what that is all about. Ashoka is a movement to turn universities away from being mere educational institutions and making them into centres of agitation for "change". No particular change is called for, just change for the sake of change apparently. That rather makes it change as entertainment.
But neophilia is indeed a major Leftist motive, as I showed long ago. Conservatives by contrast want there to be good reasons for change. They don't need to abuse the whole society for childish entertainment
One therefore rather wonders whether the taxpayer should be paying for Leftist entertainment. The taxpayer already pays for a lot of Leftist propaganda in the universities. Is that not enough?
Given the vast expense of the Australian university system, one would hope for it to be used for serious purposes -- such as transmitting and developing knowledge. Taking energies away from that can hardly be a right use of university facilities
A visitor from Glasgow Caledonian University, Julie Adair is keen to expand her ‘Common Good First’ project into Australia, capturing stories of community social impact across a wide range of areas.
Ms Adair is Director, Digital Collaboration for GCU and also has an extensive background in broadcasting with the BBC and the Walt Disney Company, with experience across several continents.
Common Good First is a digital exchange of grassroots solutions to pressing social problems, both in the UK and around the world. The Common Good First team has worked with a range of community projects to, first, promote their objectives online and then to investigate how cross-disciplinary academic networks could input innovative approaches to social change in response to the challenges the projects are facing.
“Stories take us beyond our own limited experiences and allow us to walk in the shoes of others, building knowledge of unknown places and understanding of diverse peoples,” Ms Adair says.
As her home institution is registered as an ‘Ashoka U Changemaker Campus’, Ms Adair is this week visiting the Melbourne Campus of CQUniversity, which has recently become Australia’s first approved Ashoka U institution.
She will talk about the project she started in 2015 with two small teams in Scotland and South Africa, each focusing on identifying and capturing stories of community social impact.
The project focused on individuals within communities who had found innovative ways to solve problems in their community.
“These activities ranged from re-educating prisoners to raising aspirations for young people in areas of high deprivation; from tackling dementia to supporting orphans and vulnerable children,” Ms Adair says. “Now in Australia I’m keen to express the importance of storytelling and its role in driving social innovation and also why I’m keen to gather and curate stories from around the world.
“I’m keen to let people know how they can become part of our exciting project.
More via this
Accusations of racism achieve nothing in the immigration debate
Thinking about the denunciation of TV host Sonia Kruger
We are a country increasingly divided. A world increasingly divided.
We've seen a rise of anti-immigration sentiment across the world. A person who could be the President of the US calls for the building of a "giant wall" to keep immigrants out and says he will stop all new Muslim immigrants from entering the country.
We have One Nation calling to "abolish multiculturalism and the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 based on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as it is unconstitutional."
Then we see another terrorist attack. People killed going about their every day business. Doubts are sewn for many.
The reason we are hearing what Hanson and Trump have to say, the reason they are claiming powerful political positions, is that they have support. An increasing amount of support for 'building walls' to keep immigrants out, old fashioned 'family values', the 'failure' of multiculturalism, scientists being wrong about climate change. A lot of fears - fear of the world changing, fear of losing your job, fear of dying, all being a little numbed by pointing the finger at another group of people.
As Thomas Frank reported in The Guardian about Trump:
When members of the professional class wish to understand the working-class Other, they traditionally consult experts on the subject. And when these authorities are asked to explain the Trump movement, they always seem to zero in on one main accusation: bigotry. Only racism, they tell us, is capable of powering a movement like Trump’s.
Is it just racism? Are all these people who support Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump out and out racists? Or are they scared, wanting to be listened to, open to another form of comfort, another solution that isn't let's-blame-this- lot-over-there?
I don't for a moment, for a second, agree with Pauline Hanson, Andrew Bolt or Donald Trump. I can't count the number of times I've heard that Hanson is dangerous and should be shut down, given no air-time - blacklisted. But Hanson was voted in by the people.
We need to recognise that people are voting for politicians like Hanson and Trump. To change things we have to open the conversation not close it down.
To change things we need to ask why.
Why are you supporting One Nation? Why are you supporting Donald Trump?
Since the GFC in 2008 jobs are less secure, wages have remained stagnate for the working class and the divide between the rich and the poor has increased dramatically. Inequality is the new normal. There are huge swathes of people who spend a lot of time living in fear that they can't pay their next bill. That they are a payday away from losing their home. They're resentful and angry.
Add the threat of terrorism and you have fear plus an easily identifiable villain.
Dismissing, or not listening to, the societal scaffolding that creates the fear, that then generates bigotry will only grow more discontent and resentment - which simply acts as fertiliser for the guy down the road to turn to blame and hate and people who preach blame and hate.
The world is divided and only becoming more deeply so.
Have you ever changed someone's mind by walking away from the conversation? From yelling in their face?
The end game is not being right, is not being heard, is not shutting down voices when they want to speak.
Call me naive, call me Pollyanna, but the end game is changing minds. It's understanding. We are walking down a dark, dark path and light is the only answer.
So my question is this: Why exactly did Sonia Kruger call for a complete ban on Muslim immigration?
Let's start talking Sonia about Muslim immigration and terrorism, I'd love to tell you a few stories.
South Australia's Green energy madness fuelled by protectionism
There is something particularly indulgent about a state that demands massive handouts to sustain its uncompetitive manufacturing industries while at the same time indulging in a subsidised green energy push that makes those same industries even more uncompetitive. A month ago, The Australian Financial Review pointed to the policy dishonesty in federal Labor's demands, fuelled further by Senate protectionist Nick Xenophon, that more and more taxpayers' money be thrown at bailing out the old and sub-scale Arrium steel-making plant in South Australia's Whyalla. The clear lesson of Australian protectionism is that subsidising jobs in loss-making companies or industries simply imposes costs on other more competitive companies and industries.
Now there's an extra twist to the madness. The South Australian Labor government's rush into renewable energy, particularly wind power, has forced coal-fired generation out of the state. But it also has helped generate a surge in South Australian electricity prices that is making the Arrium steelworks even more uncompetitive, as well as hitting the Nystar smelter in Port Pirie and BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam giant copper and gold mine. As we highlighted last week, the industry backlash has forced the state government to lean on owners of a mothballed gas-fired power station to crank up fossil fuel generation again in a desperate attempt to put a lid on wholesale electricity prices. But this can't fully do the trick because the ban on gas exploration in states such as NSW and Victoria has collided with the liquefied natural gas export boom to strangle supplies of gas.
Remember, this is the state that politically demands the right to build the bulk of Australia's next $50 billion submarine fleet. There might be a long-term fix if the state-based east coast gas markets were fully connected or it battery storage technology keeps improving. But this is a clear example where bad public policy is being piled upon bad policy. If it continues, such indulgence will only eat away at Australia's modern prosperity.
Life in Australia, right now, right here, is not so bad
An army of the aggrieved has taken up residence in Australia and no one is game to tell them the truth: life in Australia, right now, right here, is not so bad. We're living, arguably, in the best place in the world, at the best point in its history.
No one wants to mumble this sunny truth, because it's so much easier to pander to the pessimistic. "We can feel your pain." "Life must be so tough." "We understand what you are going through."
Besides which, if you don't pander, if you tell the sunny truth, you are quickly slapped down: "You just don't understand", or "that just proves how out of touch you are". Then out comes the wagging finger: "You should try being Aboriginal." Or young. Or old. Or gay. Or a refugee on Manus Island. Or a divorced dad done over by the Family Court.
The list is endless, but adds up to this conclusion: it is wrong to take any pleasure in Australia unless everything is perfect. The point of comparison is always with this imagined immaculate world: one that has never existed in this country, and is yet to exist anywhere else.
Does no one remember A Fortunate Life? Have we no memory of the horrors faced – then optimistically shrugged off – by a previous generation of Australians? Do any of the angry people who voted for Pauline Hanson, insisting on a return to the "good old days", remember the past recounted by Albert Facey – two world wars and a terrifying depression? And yet still a bloke who could talk of his "fortunate life".
It's not only the unhappy, old, white men of the Hansonite revival. On ABC-TV a fortnight ago, the young team from triple J presented a program called The War on Young People. Again, the army of the aggrieved was on the march.
Some good points were made. For today's young, there's a crisis in housing affordability, an uncertain job market and the burden of student loans. Throw in Mike Baird's liquor licensing laws, and, bingo, there's your war on young people.
Fair enough. On the other hand, I'd rather be gay now. I'd rather be female. I'd also rather be straight – freed from the gender straight-jackets of decades past.
When I left university – true, debt free – unemployment was twice as bad. Houses were cheap but no bastard would give you a loan: my partner and I were refused a loan by the Commonwealth Bank in 1985 because they wouldn't count a woman's income.
A generation earlier, female public servants were sacked when they married. Many lied to keep their jobs, hiding a pregnancy under increasingly voluminous clothes, until being inevitably caught out by the boss. Being gay, of course, was a criminal act.
Baird's draconian liquor laws and the 3am closing? In my time it was 10.30pm; a generation or so earlier it was 6pm. Instead of the "War on Young People", there was "Young People Sent to War": conscription and possible death by means of a televised Lotto ballot.
Life, I say, with great trepidation, has its up and downs. Each generation faces its own hardships.
Here's the problem: no one wants to stand between a fellow Australian and this hunger for feeling aggrieved. And so we end up with an echo chamber of discontent, in which every attempt at optimism is shouted down – the present always worse than an imagined, lotus-eating past.
Perhaps, instead of looking to Australia's past, the aggrieved could instead nurse their discontent by pointing to places overseas: surely life is better over there?
Again, it's a tough argument to make. As the Herald's Michael Pascoe pointed out this week, there are a raft of international studies that put Australia in podium position for balancing fairness and freedom; the economy and social needs. In the latest, out last week, we came fourth.
Yet during this election, the bleak inherited the earth. Much of the campaign was spent with a Cassandra at every turn: "oh, woe, woe, thrice woe". It was hard to move without hearing someone quote some miserable but unlikely statistic. "More than 48 per cent of Australians are functionally illiterate," someone said during a panel I was chairing and – I confess – I didn't have the courage to say, "That seems a little unlikely." Who wants to be the one to say, "Oh cheer up, life can't be that bad"?
Where did this myth of perfectibility come from: the idea that life must be perfect and if it is not perfect we have a right to feel very angry, spitting chips at the mainstream of politics? That virtue lies in exaggerating the extent of every problem?
Being aggrieved can, of course, be a good thing; it can be the force that makes the world a better place. But – for individuals and for nations – it can also strip you of happiness, momentum and even ambition. Why try when everything and everybody is so clearly against you?
Before the next election, perhaps we need a new political rallying cry. It could be something red hot like: "You know, life is not that bad."
But who among us will have the courage to admit to our national good fortune?
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here