Monday, December 09, 2019

Activism and emotion pale beside science and reason

What Greg Sheridan writes below is pretty right -- with one exception. He writes as if "we" are involved in all the current chaotic events.  But that is precisely wrong. None of the current irrationality is the doing of conservatives.  It is entirely the doing of the Left. Conservatives just stand aside and watch in horror at it all.

The challenge for us all is to work out what has corroded the rational faculties of the left.  That will not be easy.  All we can certainly tell is that it is deeply emotional.  Is it despair at the abject failure of all their past initiatives to bring about a new Eden?

Here’s the punch line — political culture in the West has become so crazy that in the pursuit of love and justice people increasingly practise hate and violence.

In a sign of the deepening political crisis in Western culture, strikes and protests crippled most of France on Friday. The protesters were upset that the government might marginally raise the retirement age. These are successor mobilisations to the Yellow Vest protests a year ago in which hundreds of thousands of people paralysed and vandalised the French capital. Emmanuel Macron was going to implement a small fuel price increase as part of combating climate change.

The French protests illustrate the broader cultural crisis of Western politics in two specific ways. First, it is core religious dogma of all progressives that radical action must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Activists never level with people that this must mean drastically reduced living standards. So when inevitably climate action explicitly reduces living standards, the public rebels.

Second, the French protests ­illustrate a deeper element of the Western crisis: a new contempt for the processes of politics and reasoned decision-making. There is contempt especially for election results that progressives don’t like, and a deep belief that all such ­results are corrupt in themselves and, in any event, partake of an ­inferior morality to the overriding morality of the progressive cause.

There are plenty of anti-democratic tendencies on the right, ­especially among the deadly fringe of white supremacists, anti-Semites and racists generally on the far right. But it is the progressive world view that is promulgated in state education systems across the West — from preschool to university — and in state-owned broadcasters, and in the Hollywood-dominated entertainment industry and in most mass media (with honourable exceptions).

These progressive causes range from climate change through the gender politics agenda, the redress of past racial injustice, aggressive secularism intent on removing ­religion from the public square, ­intersectional identity crusades through income and wealth redistribution and ending inequality.

There is some measure of justice in all these causes. But their most ardent proponents take them to unreasonable, at times insane, extremes. And, most important, their champions see them as so morally transcendent as to justify breaking all the rules of democratic politics, as justifying physical direct action as well as the foulest abuse imaginable.

This is a deep crisis in Western political culture and Australia is experiencing it fully. Let me offer some examples. Conservative senator Cory Bernardi retired from the Senate this week and warmly thanked the Australian Federal Police for their help over the years. Bernardi is not an extremist. He also does not claim any victim status. But it turns out people have come to his home making threats, his wife has been subject to vicious texting abuse, people have threatened savage violence against him and the schools his kids attended. This sort of thing goes on across the board ideologically.

The three causes that excited the most abuse for Bernardi were his opposition to same-sex marriage, his opposition to strong ­action on climate change and his criticisms of Islamism, although the latter was by far the least of it.

Gerard Henderson is a distinguished columnist on this newspaper. Among many subjects he considers, he has written lucidly and at length, and in a vein similar to lawyers and scholars, about aspects of the legal judgments against George Pell, who was convicted of child sexual ­assault offences. Pell asserts his innocence and his appeal will be heard in the High Court next year.

Louise Milligan, an ABC journalist who wrote a book attacking Pell that has been criticised by Henderson, among others, for ­alleged factual problems, tweeted that Henderson was “a vile bully” and was involved in “pedophile protecting”. Not by the wildest ­interpretation could you construe anything Henderson has ever written as sympathetic to or protecting pedophiles. Yet if you didn’t read Henderson’s columns and only saw Milligan’s tweets, you would form a wildly inaccurate view of him. And yet Milligan is a mainstream journalist. Her ­offensive tweets are a minor example of the way a sense of righteous rage blinds activists to considerations of fairness, civility or keeping in touch with reality.

These examples are straws in the wind. There are thousands upon thousands of others. Sam Roggeveen of the Lowy Institute has written an interesting short book, Our Very Own Brexit. He diagnoses, correctly, a certain “hollowing out” of our political system, a loss of faith in it. Where he is seriously mistaken is in concluding this is likely to produce ­triumphant right-wing populism that would be expressed through one side of politics wanting to end immigration to Australia.

Right-wing and left-wing populism end up being very similar, but left-wing extremism is much more pervasive in Western societies than right-wing extremism. Jeremy Corbyn is, according to numerous polls, just a “regulation polling error” (as British journalist Liam Halligan puts it) from becoming prime minister next week, with all his decades of support for terrorists, anti-Semites, dictators and communists. There is nothing remotely equivalent on the right.

The movement most likely to produce extremism in our politics is green activism. We have seen in the Occupy Wall Street, farm ­invasion and Extinction Rebellion demonstrations a contempt for normal politics, a determination to take direct action and a settled conviction that mere democratic election confers no legitimacy on a government. And the accompanying conviction that anyone who opposes these movements justifies extreme rhetorical, and sometimes physical, attack.

John Anderson, former deputy prime minister and long-time cattle farmer, thinks there is every chance extremism on climate change will hurt Australia economically, blight the future of young people and polarise and coarsen our politics, without doing anything to help the planet.

One of Anderson’s great qualities is balance and restraint, qualities little esteemed in this moment of cultural derangement. He tells me: “On climate, we have to adopt a mixture of mitigation and adaptation. But the world is not going to end. Internationally, grain prices are low because production keeps rising ahead of demand.”

Feeding the world, he says, causes 30 per cent of global emissions. Should we stop feeding the world? Anderson surprises me with his priority policy prescription: “Reducing food waste would be our most important contribution. Australia wastes something like 40 per cent of the food it produces and uses.”

What a wonderfully unglamorous, unromantic, undramatic, practical thing it is we really need to do — stop wasting food.

“There is an effort to delegitimise our industry,” he says. “The problem is the debate has moved from science and reason to one of political activism and emotion. People are involved in these campaigns with very different agendas.

“It involves a lot of people who have come to loathe our culture and our history and think capitalism and profits are dirty words. This overlooks the enormous positive contribution of the West.

“Competition and innovation in business, combined with a lot of compassion, have contributed to reducing the proportion of malnourished people in the world from 40 to 50 per cent 50 years ago, to 15 per cent now. Life expectancy has doubled. Education has kept increasing.”

Farmers, he says, care passionately about the climate and the mix of policies he would like to see focuses on better farming, less ­dependency in farming on fossil fuels, greater carbon sequestration and a reduction in energy intensity in feeding the world. (Though he says we must recognise no carbon reduction policy of ours will have any effect on droughts or fires.)

These are gradual, ameliorative measures of the type Western ­societies have undertaken in confronting countless problems before, but they won’t fire a demon­stration, cause anyone to glue themselves to the road, invade a farm, threaten a politician’s family, so they stand against the perversities of the zeitgeist.

Ideology and emotion are everywhere destroying good policy options. Says Anderson: “Every scientist will tell you that one of the most valuable transition fuels we have is gas, but we’ve allowed the Greens to demonise even gas.

“Gas could save us from exporting our industries to places that use energy far less efficiently and will produce much greater greenhouse gas emissions. We could easily end up de-industrialising Australia without doing anything to lower emissions on the planet.”

Anderson draws deeper cultural lessons: “Our young people have been trained to rely on their emotions rather than facts.”

Modern education and culture, he thinks, tell young people that the world is divided between completely good people and completely bad people, and “climate change hysteria could be the tipping point for Western societies”.

How we got to this point is a huge intellectual debate. Many writers see the loss of religion, the loss of unifying transcendent ­belief, as key.

Os Guinness in Last Shout for Liberty argues the West is still ­adjudicating the conflict between the American Revolution, which was a conservative movement to allow citizens to pursue lives of virtue and tradition with minimum interference from the state, and the French Revolution, which empowered the state to do anything.

We need to break free of the syndrome that now grips the West, of ever greater protest, ever more vitriol, ever feebler politics held in ever greater contempt.

Oh, and ever greater competition from rising nations untroubled by these complexes.


The battle to find teachers for the Bush

HUNDREDS of school teachers have been recruited from overseas and interstate to help plug a critical shortage sweeping regional Queensland. The Courier-Mail can reveal more than 270 teachers have been hired through the State Government's interstate and
Outsiders international recruitment campaign to fill the urgent demand in regional, rural and remote areas, where some schools have experienced an almost 100 per cent turnover of staff some years.

But despite the recruitment drive, teacher shortages are predicted to get even worse next year reaching acute levels in some partS of the state. And it's not just primary and secondary schools facing shortfalls; childcare centres are also struggling to attract and retain qualified teachers.

Queensland Secondary Principals' Association president Mark Breckenridge said getting enough teachers to rural parts of the state was "a constant challenge". "There are a lot of reasons why, and one is that as the south-east corner population continues to grow, it sucks up a lot of the teachers," he said. "There are many innovative ways to try to encourage teachers to move, but I don't think anyone has got a real answer".  He said principals were fighting to use their scarce resources to get the best results for students in these areas.

A Department of Education spokesman said the interstate and international campaign had recruited more than 200 secondary teachers and more than 70 primary teachers. "Both beginning and experienced secondary teachers from interstate and overseas have applied to work in Queensland state schools," he said. "They are particularly attracted to the mentoring support and career development offered in Queensland."

From the Brisbane "Courier mail of 7 December, 2019

Brisbane Broncos put the feelers out for Israel Folau who is 'training hard for a return to the game' and would let a future club vet his social media posts

He played League previously -- before Rugby -- so this is a no-brainer

The Brisbane Broncos have put out the feelers for Israel Folau who is said to be training hard as he prepares to return to the game.

The former Wallabies winger reached an out-of-court settlement with Rugby Australia this week after lodging a $14 million compensation claim for wrongful termination following his infamous homophobic post on social media.

The Sunday Telegraph reports the 30-year-old has meanwhile been training hard to get himself fit for a preferred return to rugby league.

Any cross-code switch could meet resistance from the NRL, however, with chairman Peter V'landys having publicly insisted that devout Christian Folau's controversial stance on homosexuality is incompatible with the game's ethos.

According to the Telegraph Folau would even be willing to allow the NRL to vet his future social media posts if it allowed him to move back to the competition.

Potential suitors are said to be monitoring the situation closely, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting Brisbane Broncos have already made a tentative inquiry with the game's governing body to see if they can bring Folau back into the 13-man game.

RA said they're aware of the expected offers and officials are stunned.

Folau said he didn't want to move overseas to continue his career and believes he has three years of football left in him and is in shape for any fitness test an NRL club would put him through.

Folau played four seasons in the NRL, with the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos, before a short-lived stint in the AFL and then a move to rugby union.


For medivac, Jacqui Lambie got a briefing and a promise, says Mathias Cormann

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has played down the prospect of refugee resettlement in New Zealand as senior government ministers continue to deny striking a secret deal with senator Jacqui Lambie in exchange for her vote to repeal medivac laws.

It is believed the Tasmanian crossbencher was assured the government would pursue the New Zealand option once a resettlement deal with the US concluded.

She told the Senate this week national security concerns prevented her from speaking about her proposal to the Coalition. But on Sunday, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said all Ms Lambie had received in exchange for her support was “detailed classified briefings” and an assurance the Coalition would continue on course.

“The government has not changed any policy on border protection or resettlement arrangements or anything else in order to secure Jacqui Lambie’s vote,” Senator Cormann told the ABC.

“What we have done in response to issues that Jacqui raised with us is provide detailed classified briefings to ensure she was fully across what the government was doing and why.

“The only thing we have done is to provide her with an undertaking that we would continue to implement the government’s policies unchanged.”


Free speech update from Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of seven children and formerly served as an officer in the Australian Regular Army, deploying to the Middle East on three occasions. He was recognised with the United Stated Meritorious Service Medal for his service in Iraq. He was dismissed from the army in 2013 over his outspoken conservative Catholic views

It has been some time since I wrote to you with an update on the legal battles I face.

To be honest, for the first time since this began back in 2013, I have not known what to say because I have no doubt that it will be used against me.

Things are very complicated at the moment and delicately poised. But the time has come to speak.

Chief of Defence Force

Just like Israel Folau, I was sacked in 2014 for expressing views about marriage, family and morality and particularly for pointing out that it was against Defence policy to allow uniformed Defence members to march officially in the Sydney Mardi Gras.

Unlike Israel, I took the matter to court. I won the first case in the Federal Court but lost on appeal. The High Court then refused to grant leave to hear the matter.

The judgement of the Full Court of the Federal Court allowing my sacking has been criticised in academia, legal commentary and even in the media.

I was also hit with costs. Defence has sat on those costs since 2017. Now it is pursuing me for $743,379.17.

I have sent the Chief of Defence Force a statutory declaration with my financial situation. He knows he will be lucky to get anything out of me because he knows I have almost nothing left.

Nonetheless, Defence has already spent almost $30,000 just preparing the costs statements to pursue me. It will incur significantly more expenditure pursuing me.

This is clearly in breach of Defence’s legal obligations to act as model litigant. Those obligations can be found here.

In particular, government departments are entitled to pursue costs but only if it is in the economic interests of the taxpayer. Instead, Defence is blowing through more of your money for a futile purpose. Defence is wasting public money for an exercise that can only achieve one thing: causing harm to my family.

I am taking actions to defend myself against this attack through various means which I am not willing to discuss publicly yet. I am also taking advice about possible legal actions that may become necessary next year.

However, it is highly likely that Defence will attempt to bankrupt me in the not too distant future.

This will obviously cause me some difficulties but my main concern is that it will severely limit my ability to defend myself against Garry Burns. In particular, I am concerned that the New South Wales Attorney General will seek orders from the courts that my case against the New South Wales anti-discrimination industry should not heard unless I place a large sum of money into trust.

However, I will deal with these hypotheticals if and when they arise although I am taking action now in case they do.

However, one thing I can state is this: I will not be running a fundraising campaign for these court costs. In good conscience I just cannot ask anyone to donate to a campaign that will simply hand their hard-earned cash over to the government.

Garry Burns

While the Chief of Defence Force issue is problematic, things are looking much brighter on the Garry Burns front.

Firstly, Burns had been in the habit of sending me a barrage of offensive, harassing and even violent emails.

However, he has now signed court orders by consent prohibiting any further communications with me. If he breaches these orders he will face contempt of court proceedings. That, in itself, is a significant victory.

Up until recently he has been allowed by the courts and especially the Civil and Administrative Tribunal to get away with this conduct.

Furthermore, Burns has finally been hit with court costs. Recently the process to determine costs from Burns’ failed High Court action against me and Tess Corbett was finalised and he now owes over $80,000.

He is now facing bankruptcy action due to his failure to pay these costs.

And, just to make it very clear, if I was bound by the same model litigant rules that apply to the Defence Force, he would still face bankruptcy action. Model litigant rules allow for actions to recover costs in the case of vexatious litigation.

Burns has launched a fundraiser for his legal costs. It was launched on 20 November 2019. And, to date, it has raised just over $5,000.

It really is interesting that the most high profile gay litigant in Australia can only raise $5,000 in just over two weeks, while Israel Folau raised over $2 million in two days.

I think this shows, more than anything, how clearly public opinion differs from hashtag world occupied by activists like Burns on Twitter. The progressive elite do not live in the real world. They just want to control those who do.

It should come as no surprise that very shortly after Burns received his bills he lodged a complaint against Israel Folau. These actions are nothing more than a money-making scheme for him. I do hope that Folau defends himself against Burns. It would be a betrayal if he chose to settle with him.

Burns is also claiming that the New South Wales Attorney General will shortly decide whether to pay his court costs. It would be a tremendous scandal if the taxpayer bailed Burns out.

The New South Wales Court of Appeal will hear my case that the new laws that have allowed Burns to continue complaining against me are invalid on 24 February 2019.

Burns and the New South Wales anti-discrimination industry should be defending this matter. But they aren’t. Instead, the New South Wales Attorney General has officially been listed as a party and he is the only party opposing me.

As such, to defend my views expressed in Queensland I now need to defeat the first law officer of a ‘conservative’ government in another state. That says it all about the state of conservative politics in Australia.

Other news

I am sorry that I have not been writing as regularly as I have previously. The legal dramas do limit the time I have to write but, to be honest, even when I have time to write I am just mentally drained.

I apologise for that. However, I am in the process of producing a lot more video content. I would be interested in your feedback on this form of communication and whether you enjoy it more than written articles.

I have written today about the fallout of the Israel Folau saga. While I can understand the pressure that he was under, I do believe that the settlement has not achieved anything at all for the wider common good.

It is a massive missed opportunity.

And for those who are interested, I have been following and writing about the Plenary Council in Australia. While you may not be Catholic, the problems we face today stem from a moral crisis in society.

Email from Bernard Gaynor:

 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

1 comment:

Paul said...

In other words, we told Jackie Lambie what we wanted to do and why, and she agreed with us and supported our policy.

Can we move on now?