Monday, June 25, 2018

Australia's dangerous obsession with the Anglosphere

Dennis Altman, author of the article partly reproduced below, has been queer since before it was fashionable and was also born a Jew. Both those backgrounds probably have a role in making him alienated from the Australian society in which he lives. So much so that he clearly does not understand mainstream Australians -- which could also be due to his many distinguished academic appointments.

Academe is a very different world of its own. I saw it close up in my own academic career. In that career I did a lot of social surveys using general population samples and it was amusing how different the results I got were when compared with the conventional literature of social and political science. "The people" are not as academics conceive them. Most academics live in a complacent Leftist bubble from which all dissident thought is rigorously excluded.  And if a disturbing thought is forced into their consciousness, they foam with rage -- as Donald Trump has shown.

So, for various reasons, Dennis just cannot understand why our news media and cutural outlets do not focus on Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi. Geographical considerations would suggest that our focus should be there but it is not. We hear ten thousand times more about Donald Trump than we do about Narendra Modi (Who's Narendra Modi?). The fact that Dennis finds that wrong is a very interesting commentary on his thinking. He elevates geography over the social sciences. Once again we see that people are a puzzle to him.

I reproduce below only the opening blast from his very long and repetitious article but I think that that suffices to give you a very fair indication of his drift.

It's what he doesn't say that is more enlightening, however. He fails to get to grips with the ancient truth that we get on better with people like ourselves and find people like ourselves more interesting. That simple truth explains the "perversity" that Dennis sees in the world about him. Both genetically and culturally the UK and the USA are very similar to us and that is the end of it. We will always be more interested in them than in the doings at Ulaanbaatar, historically important though Mongolia has been. Dennis's claim that we should be less preoccupied by ethnic and cultural similarity is pissing into the wind. He certainly does not explain why something so normal is a "dangerous obsession"

Over the past three weeks the ABC program Four Corners has presented special reports on American politics, which involved one of our best journalists, Sarah Ferguson, travelling to the US on special assignment. I watched these programs and I enjoyed them. But in part I enjoyed them because they covered ground that is already familiar.

If the same effort had gone into bringing us in-depth special reports from, say, Jakarta or Mumbai they would have been less familiar, but perhaps more interesting. Most important they would not be stories already covered by major English language media to which we have extraordinary access.

As we struggle to make sense of a changing world order, in which the role of the US seems less defined and dependable, our fascination with things American continues to grow. It is one of the ironies of current Australian life that preoccupation with "the Anglosphere", a favourite phrase of former prime minister Tony Abbott's, is in practice shared by many who regard themselves as progressive.

What is the Anglosphere? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as "the countries of the world in which the English language and cultural values predominate", clearly referring to Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A surprisingly recent term, it was coined by the science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1995 novel The Diamond Age, and then picked up by a number of conservative commentators.

The Churchillian notion of near-mythical bonds created by the English language and British heritage has always attracted Australian conservatives. Chris Berg from the Institute of Public Affairs wrote in 2012:

"Our heritage is not something to be ashamed of. It is not a coincidence the oldest surviving democracies are in the Anglosphere. Or that a tradition of liberty, stretching back to the Magna Carta, has given English-speaking nations a greater protection of human rights and private property. We ought to be proud, not bashful. Sure, it's more fashionable to talk of the `Asian century'. But the Anglosphere will shape Australia's cultural and political views for a century. It's a shame only conservatives feel comfortable talking about it"

Both former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr and former prime minister Kevin Rudd attacked Abbott's enthusiasm for the Anglosphere. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is far less likely to invoke the term, and the election of Donald Trump means the idea has gone out of fashion on the right, who are struggling how to respond to a US president who is both their worst fears and their greatest hopes made flesh.

Yet despite 50 years of governments talking about Australia as part of Asia, now somewhat rebadged in the concept of the Indo-Pacific, our cultural guardians continue to behave as if nothing has changed. We may be wary of Trump's America, and a little bemused by the reappearance of Little Britain, but we still look unreflectively to the US and Britain for intellectual guidance.


Eurydice Dixon: ‘Rape culture’ facts just don’t fit

CLAIRE LEHMANN comprehensively demolishes feminist theory in just one article

It has been little more than a week since a young Melbourne woman, Eurydice Dixon, had her life cut short by young man who allegedly raped and murdered her, leaving her body in an empty oval in the early hours of the morning. The young man has since turned himself in to police. [He was a mental case]

In the aftermath of this brutal crime we have seen calls to action from Malcolm Turnbull to “change the hearts of men”, from Bill Shorten to “change the attitudes of men”, and from Adam Bandt that “we (men) must change the way we act”, as if there were some kind of unspoken bond between the person who committed this crime and the politicians who govern the nation.

Such utterances, while potentially comforting to those who are acutely distressed, are overly broad in their attribution of blame. Whether such broadness is intentional or not, it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of evil, and betrays the liberal principle that no person should be held accountable for a crime they did not commit.

In my brief time as a graduate student of forensic psychology, I learned about children who had “callous and unemotional” traits. These traits are the childhood version of what we call psychopathy in adults. Children who exhibit these traits are cruel to their pets and siblings in ways the ordinary person would struggle to comprehend. I read about one child who stuck pins into the eyes of the family dog, and another child who poured paint stripper over his disabled sister’s legs. The traumatised parents of these children live out lives of devastation and outrage, and suffer the fate of being blamed for their children’s disturbance (when most often it is not their fault). Fortunately, there are a handful of clinics around the world that try to train such children out of such behaviour. But in the long run many of them do grow up to be antisocial, some become criminals, others do not.

When Victoria Police Superintendent David Clayton said people “should be aware of (their) surroundings” and take precautions to protect their own safety following the discovery of Dixon’s body, he uttered a statement so commonsensical as to be banal. Yet, from the vicious reaction to his words, one might have momentarily thought that he was the murderer. Premier Daniel ­Andrews seemed to implicitly rebuke the senior police officer when he officiously declared: “Women don’t need to change their behaviour. Men do.”

Yet anyone who has had any real-life experience knows what Clayton was referring to: psychopaths exist in our midst, and these predators opportunistically engage in acts of malevolence. These criminals are rare but the damage they can do can be devastating. All the high-minded efforts to get men to “change” aren’t going to rid the world of psychopaths, unless one believes psychopaths don’t exist in the first place.

As a senior police officer, Clayton presumably knows a bit about crime. He is familiar with depravity and recognises its signs. Yet this simple fact of life, that evil exists, seems beyond the realm of the progressive imagination. Limited by an emaciated vocabulary, such crimes are now explained via the newspeak of “oppression”, “power” and “problematic attitudes” that have been “socialised”.

The fashionable explanation today is the idea that crimes against women are a cultural phenomenon. Prominent feminist Clementine Ford writes in The Age: “Sexual violence and homicide might be the extreme end point of it, but the spectrum they sit on stretches right back to ‘harmless’ casual sexism, the rape ‘jokes’ and threats that proliferate online and the attitude expressed towards women on a daily basis by groups of men who’ve been socialised to view themselves as superior. These toxic behaviours don’t manifest one day out of nowhere. They are cultivated.”

White Ribbon ambassador Andrew Swan joined the crime-is-cultural chorus, stating: “It is crucial to consider sexual assault and family violence as part of the same spectrum — a dark rainbow that begins with something as simple as a sexist joke, and our reaction to it.” The solution? “Try not laughing,” he said.

The focus on sexist jokes and “everyday sexism” seems disproportionate when weighed against the evidence. You wouldn’t know it from the amount of times the myth is repeated by media commentators, but there is no evidence that links the telling of jokes to sexual assault or murder. On the contrary, in the psychiatric literature, losing one’s ability to laugh (anhedonia) is a recognised sign of psychopathology, and a general sense of humour is considered healthy.

The fashionable idea that all men are somehow responsible for a culture of rape and violence is not supported by the evidence either. Crimes in general, including crimes against women, are committed overwhelmingly by a minority subset of the general population. In Sweden, for example, a population-based study that looked at more than two million people from 1975 to 2004 found that only 1 per cent of the population were responsible for 63.2 per cent of all crimes recorded — nearly twice as many as the other 99 per cent combined. That’s a tiny percentage of the population responsible for the vast majority of offending.

The same holds true for sexual assault. Offenders who commit sexual assaults are much likelier to be “life-course persistent offenders”; that is, individuals who have the greatest propensity to criminality. Again, a minority is responsible for the majority of offending. Even when it comes to sexual harassment, it is likely that repeat offenders cause most of the trouble. The fact is that recidivist offenders are responsible for the vast bulk of all crimes, and unfortunately these individuals are the least likely to be persuaded by rehabilitation campaigns or public education efforts.

“But what about domestic violence?” one may ask. Isn’t the high rate of intimate-partner ­violence evidence that we live in a culture that belittles and devalues women?

It is true that women experience the most serious forms of domestic violence, which can involve stalking and end in murder. In Australia, about 70 per cent of all intimate-partner homicides are female. And about one in four women (or about 25 per cent to 30 per cent) report having been the victim of intimate-partner ­violence at some time. Yet intimate-partner violence is not a male-only domain. In an Australian study, lesbians were likelier to report having been in an abusive relationship than gay men (41 per cent and 28 per cent respectively). And in the US, the lifetime prevalence of having been the victim of intimate-­partner violence is found to be much higher among lesbians and bisexual women when compared with heterosexual women and gay men. The feminist theory that claims violence is a tool used by men systematically to oppress women as a collective fails to account for such data. It also fails to account for the Nordic paradox.

A study published in 2016 coined the term Nordic paradox to refer to the puzzling finding that in countries with the highest level of gender equality — ­Sweden, Norway and Finland — rates of reported intimate-partner violence are substantially higher than in the rest of the world. (The global prevalence of IPV is estimated to be about 30 per cent but in Sweden it is 38 per cent.) Researchers do not know if this is because there is a backlash effect in which men are responding to shifts towards gender egalitarianism by lashing out, or if it is simply the result of increased awareness and reporting. But whatever the explanation is determined to be, the feminist prediction that violence declines as gender equality increases simply is not supported by the data.

The idea that our culture condones violence against women is farcical. There are no sympathetic portrayals of rapists or wife-­abusers in films, TV shows or in most of the Western canon. On the contrary, films often revolve around a plot of revenge where a morally depraved figure who has harmed a woman receives his just deserts. There are no cultural artefacts that glorify rape and, contrary to the accusations of some feminists, men who abuse or exploit women generally are held in contempt by other men.

Crimes against women are stigmatised and punished harshly. Sexual offenders generally are given lengthy prison sentences and are secluded from other prisoners precisely because the crime is so reviled — even in ­prison.

While ABC journalists ask why violence against women is an “accepted part” of Western civilisation we must remember that a long view of the trends in violent crime all point to violence decreasing substantially across time. In Australia, the homicide rate and sexual assault rate peaked in the 1970s and has been declining steadily since.

As documented by Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature, all Western nations have seen dramatic and persistent declines in interpersonal violence dur­ing the past 500 years. While there may be variations from year to year, rates of violent crime are much lower now than at any point in our recorded history.

Yet in public conversations about crime, data is overlooked in favour of appeals to emotion. And to compound the naivety, the political narratives that surround crime today — especially crimes against women — are becoming increasingly toxic and divisive. While “equality” for the left once meant the removal of artificial barriers that impeded people’s ability to partake in social and economic life, today it means something different.

The contemporary left sees the world through the lens of groups warring over scarce resources. This perspective perceives res­ources as static: there is a pie that never grows, and the role of politics is to cut the pie up in a more fair and equitable manner. In this world view, if more men are in positions of power within a society, then this happens at the expense of women. Interactions between groups are zero-sum.

In this world of identity politics, individuality is subsumed into the collective. When one man holds power, he doesn’t do so on behalf of himself, he does so on behalf of the male collective. Likewise, when one man commits a murder, collectivists will portray it as being done in the service of all men. This regressive world view has no qualms about ascribing collective guilt to entire groups of people. But ascribing collective guilt strikes at the very heart of our understanding of justice and liberty.

One reason violence has declined in the West is because at some point along the way we decided that individual sovereignty matters, and that it was unjust to hold people accountable for crimes they did not commit. Let’s not reverse the trend.


'The boats haven't gone away': Australia is approaching a 'danger phase' with illegal immigrant arrivals, says Peter Dutton

Peter Dutton thinks five years hard work 'stopping the boats' could be undone if Australia acts compassionately and allows entry for offshore detainees.  

The Immigration Minister warned his Coalition colleagues the country could be in 'danger phase' amid growing pressure to bring people in detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia.

'We are in a danger phase because only a month ago we stopped a steel-hulled vessel with 131 people coming out of Sri Lanka,' Mr Dutton told The Weekend Australian.

'There are 14,000 people still in Indonesia and there is excited chatter among people-smuggling syndicates about the prospect of Australia being available again.'

He argued success from the past few years of struggle could be 'undone overnight' if Australia bought 20 people from Manus out of compassion.

'The boats are there, we are scuttling boats, we are returning people and we are turning around boats where it is safe to do so. The boats haven't gone away and if there is a success defined by an arrival of a boat in Australia then the word will spread like wildfire.'

There are nearly 700 men currently in detention on Papua New Guinea, and more than 900 men, women and children on Nauru.

New figures come as 292 asylum-seekers were sent to the US in recent weeks under an agreement with Donald Trump.

Mr Dutton's firm view on detainees was backed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said Australia's 'compassionate, secure and well-managed immigration system' was based on strong border protection.   

'Here in Australia we have one of the most generous refugee and humanitarian programs in the world,' Mr Turnbull told Nine News.

'The reason we can do that is because we decide, the Australian government decides, representing the Australian people, who comes to Australia; not people-smugglers.'

Their comments came after Refugee Week, during which many accused Mr Dutton of having blood on his hands' regarding deaths in detention centres

Chris Breen from Refugee Action Collective said he agreed with Trump's words to Mr Turnbull 'you are worse than I am' because Trump reversed his decision to separate families, while Mr Turnbull continued 'cruelty to refugees asylum-seekers'.

Despite amounting pressure, Mr Dutton continued to deny entry to asylum-seekers who sought refuge in Australia by boat out of fear it would 'put Australia back on the table'. 

A Newspoll survey this week revealed 50 per cent of voters thought a Labor Government would either 'improve' or 'make no difference' to asylum-seeker policies.


NO WONDER our cities are struggling with congestion and housing unaffordability - Australia is growing faster than ever before

AUSTRALIA'S population is growing faster than ever before and is now set to hit a milestone it wasn't expected to reach until 2051.

Less than 20 years ago, in 1999, Australia's population was 19 million and it wasn't expected to top 25 million until 2051. But figures released this week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics now predicts this milestone will be reached in early August this year - that's 33 years earlier than scheduled.

Social researcher and demographer Mark McCrindle, of McCrindle Research, said it took just two and a half years to add the last million people. "That's a record, the previous million took two years and nine months," Mr McCrindle told

When Australia's population jumped from 23 to 24 million on the 23 April, 2013, it was the first time that a million people had been added in less than three years.

"The speed we are adding each million now has never been shorter," Mr McCrindle said. "The population increase has never been greater."

Back in 1999, a press releases from then-financial services minister Joe Hockey, suggested population growth would actually slow down as natural increase - births minus deaths - fell and migration levels remained steady. The reality has been very different.

"Natural increase has grown and net migration has increased even more," Mr McCrindle said.

Previously natural increase was the biggest factor, contributing 53 per cent of the population growth, while migration only made up 47 per cent.

The latest data from 2017 found natural increase made up just 38 per cent of the growth, while migration was responsible for 62 per cent of the increase.

"So back then, net migration was contributing less than half of the growth, now it's almost two-thirds."

This is in line with the most recent Census results that showed Australia was more multicultural than ever, with 26 per cent born overseas, compared to 1966 when only 18 per cent of the population had been born overseas.

The accelerated population growth has brought some positive impacts including driving economic growth, domestic demand and the growth in the property sector, but it's also created challenges.

"It seems city planning and general infrastructure provision was based on population growth that was a lot less than we are actually experiencing," Mr McCrindle said.

"If you are wondering why we have infrastructure bottlenecks, traffic congestion and housing unaffordability, it's because the growth was red hot and the planning was based on the wrong numbers."

However, in recent years there has been massive infrastructure investment and changes to housing development and land release strategies to accommodate demand.

"We are back on track with our planning but particularly in our cities, we are still playing a bit of catch-up and that's why residents in our largest capitals are experiencing `growing pains' as the population increases," Mr McCrindle said.

The population figure includes anyone who intends to stay in Australia for more than one year and that includes overseas students, long-term holiday makers and those who have skilled visas.

"They are all contributing to the economy and have been a key economic driver so that's why you're not going to see the migration number being pulled back that much," Mr McCrindle said. "The economy is relying on it."

He said the big question was where would Australia end up.

"Based on the current growth tracker, we will exceed 40 million by 2051," Mr McCrindle said. "Sydney will exceed eight million in that year and Melbourne will similarly exceed eight million.

"We are really going to have those megacities and indeed, global cities."

To put this in perspective, the current population of London based on 2011 figures, is just over eight million.

While some may be worried about such huge growth, Mr McCrindle said Australia had the land mass to handle it.

"We've got a population of 25 million living on a land mass similar in size to the US which has 325 million," he said.

"Certainly if we can get regional growth right and rebalance our population to areas outside of Sydney and Melbourne, our land mass can accommodate it if we have the right infrastructure.

"Canada also has a similar land mass and they're at 36 million currently - that's the scale of where we're headed."

Australia's population grew by 388,000 people in 2017 and reached 24.8 million by the end of the year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is now predicting Australia will reach a population of 25 million in early August 2018.


Trump 'welcome' in Australia: politicians

US President Donald Trump would be welcomed by both Liberal and Labor if he decides to visit Australia during a tour around the APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea in November.

Mr Trump, along with other world leaders, is expected to make stops in Australia as part of a tour that will take him to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation leaders' summit in Papua New Guinea on November 17 and 18.

One option being considered is Mr Trump visiting Sydney, Canberra and Cairns, but nothing had been "locked in" yet, a US government source told The Australian newspaper.

Federal cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said any president of the United States is welcome in Australia, despite a high chance of protests.

"We have 100 years of mateship with the United States this year, of course we would welcome him here," Mr Pyne told reporters in Adelaide on Saturday.

"There's almost always protests when an American president visits Australia."

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said Australia's relationship with the US was very valued and important for national security.

"That doesn't mean that we should be unquestioning allies," she told reporters in Sydney. "We will always make foreign policy decisions based on our own national interests."

Mr Trump could also fly into Brisbane, an expected entry point for leaders on their way to PNG.

It would be Mr Trump's first Australian visit as president.


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

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