This is a must read extract from Greg Sheridan in today’s Australian. When you see all the threads drawn together in one column like this it is a compelling and distressing look into the future of Australia.
“……Australia is a rich and successful society. But we are starting to go wrong. Now, with the latest being the likely defeat of the Turnbull government’s amendments to the truly wicked section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, there are too many signs of things going badly wrong.
Here are telling signs of a country going backwards.
The likely preservation by parliament of the worst elements of 18C is similarly a sign of the increasing dominance of identity politics and the always related desire to move the control of political discussion, wherever possible, into the hands of the judiciary or government tribunals that ape the judiciary.
If this wicked legislation survives intact it will inevitably be used to prosecute the destructive agenda of modern, ideological identity politics.
I have spent a lot of time in nations whose chief civic identity is communal rather than citizenship-based. It’s never very pretty. It is a sign of the derangement of our times that we now push in that direction. In some senses, fighting identity politics is as important, or more important, than the arguments about free speech.
And, of course, identity politics, or communal politics, is always accompanied by a hysterical, populist fear campaign. That’s how you get people to identify primarily on the basis of communal identity rather than common citizenship. The Labor-Greens activist alliance will now presumably run just this kind of dishonest, dangerous fear campaign among ethnic communities.
The relentless ideological denigration of Western civilisation in the humanities departments of our universities betrays a loss of self-confidence . Even Australia Day is attacked.
There are more mechanical signs of policy distress.
One of the most common features of a Third World country not making it is an inability to provide reliable electricity supplies. A leader determined to fight that often has to build, hastily and uneconomically , new small power plants to plug the gaps, as Fidel Ramos did in Manila in the early 1990s. Our naval ship builders will need independent back-up generators in South Australia, which Premier Jay Weatherill has reduced almost to Third World status as an investment destination. Countries going backwards often find their budget out of control. Our Senate has now made it impossible to control government expenditure. Left-wing populism will never countenance any meaningful spending cut, beyond gutting national defence. Rightwing populism typically concedes, slowly, on expenditure and makes its stand instead on identity issues.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous sign of a country that cannot function in a modern, decent way is that certain powerful interests decide that obeying the law is entirely discretionary.
Sally McManus, the new ACTU secretary, says she and the union movement are entitled to break a law “when it’s unjust” . That means they are only obliged to obey the laws they think are just. There is a lot in common with the historical attitude, if not the methodology, of street-fighting fascists here. They too said they would only break laws that were unjust. And McManus was speaking in relation to what could be described as the militia force of the ACTU, namely the CFMEU.
A nation failing the development test often finds the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force is contested by powerful groups with economic and ideological objections to obeying the law.
I have seen all this before. Put it all together. Poor fellow my country.
Identity politics, or communal politics, is always accompanied by a hysterical, populist fear campaign…..”