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Linkfest

February 28th, 2006

I’ve been going to post on various things, but others have already done it. First up, here’s Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo making the point that Howard hasn’t, as so many have suggested, succeeded in shifting Australian political attitudes to the right. Gianna has more.

Tim Dunlop covers hearing impairment at the AWB inquiry. It’s good to know the Howard government hires the disabled, and at a million bucks a pop, too.

And, off-topic a little, Tim Lambert shares with me and CT blogger Eszter Hargittai an Erdos number of 3

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  1. February 28th, 2006 at 23:02 | #1

    Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo making the point that Howard hasn’t, as so many have suggested, succeeded in shifting Australian political attitudes to the right.

    Correct in the trivial sense, since in democratic politics it is the people, not the elite, that govern sea-change in policies.

    But fundamentally wrong in the main constructivism’s Great Disruption to culture is over and we are in the midst of conservativism’s Great Relearning. The authority of the family, church and state are making a moderate, but real, comeback in politics, policy and society.

    Its true, and not contested, that most Australians have not shifted to the Right much on Economic Equity or National Security policy. The populus, particularly in the aftermath of corporate boondoggles and Iraq disaster, incline to fiscal progressivism in economics and global legalism in geo-politics.

    Still, Timor and Bali have strenghthened militant nationalism. And the spread of investor populism in the stock and property markets has strengthened the hands of financial regressives.

    More to the point, Howard has won most recent battles in the Culture Wars. Australian political attitudes shifted to the Cultural Right (“Dry conservative”) in 1996 in reaction to a generation of failed Cutural Left (“Wet constructive”) cultural policy. Hansonism was the public face of the reaction to the collapse of Keatings “Refugees, Republic and Reconciliation” project.

    The Cultural Wets are in decline in politics. The ratio of Wets in parliament has not been lower in the past generation. Howard-hating cost them the Senate.

    The ALP and L/NP front bench are dominated by cultural conservatives. The Democrats are now a spent force. The Greens can only make progress so long as they stick to ecological conservation.

    The Cultural Wets have also suffered major set backs in policy. Border Protection and Bali/911 has smashed the multicultural ethnic pandering racket. The ratbag wing of the feminists have been bowled over by the Baby Bonus. The Monarchy has seen off the lame Republican challenge. Mardi Gras is dead in the water, partly in rejection to the glorification of sexual mores that are obviously incompatible with the health of rank and file gays. The indigenous seperatist movement has been sunk with the exposure of corruption in ATSIC.

    More generally, the conservative shift in broad culture is evident in the resurgence of evangelic Protestantism in the suburbs, surge in enrollments in religious and authoritarian schools, revival of the ANZAC myth, slow reconstruction of married two-parent families and general intolerance of any nonsense from intolerant ethnic gangstas. Flag waving is no longer “uncool”. Its all good.

    Last, but not least, Darwinian “Old Adamite” socio-biology is in the process of delivering the coup de grace to the exhausted Boazian “Blank Slate” sociological research program. No competent scientist can now deny that evolutionary demography is a major part of social destiny. And that human diversity in race, gender and sexuality is biologically real.

    Howard did not cause all this. He followed suit with gusto. “The times suited [him]“.

  2. Mickey Mouse
    March 1st, 2006 at 01:50 | #2

    ‘…evolutionary demography is a major part of social destiny.’

    Pseudo-erudite humbug, as usual.

    ‘And that human diversity in race, gender and sexuality is biologically real.’

    True but irrelevant, as usual.

  3. James Farrell
    March 1st, 2006 at 02:03 | #3

    Bugger. Now I’ll have to submit to a lifetime of mouse jokes from Jack. Worse, I won’t be able to count on help from Katz, since we are natural enemies.

  4. March 1st, 2006 at 03:13 | #4

    Has Jack ever acknowledged that it was Chomsky who refuted the blank slate theory?

  5. March 1st, 2006 at 06:53 | #5

    thanks for the link, John.

  6. observa
    March 1st, 2006 at 07:51 | #6

    “First up, here’s Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo making the point that Howard hasn’t, as so many have suggested, succeeded in shifting Australian political attitudes to the right”

    Well fancy that! You mean to say for all those ‘sky is falling’ Howard Haters over the last decade, who migrated to NZ or Canada, etc, that it’s safe for them to come home now? Who’d have ever thunk it, listening to their doomsaying compatriots that soldiered on in Oz under the burden of such right wing oppression all about them?

    “It’s good to know the Howard government hires the disabled, and at a million bucks a pop, too.”
    Well I guess that disabled employee did earn his keep in protecting Aussie wheat farmers’ markets from those evil Murrikins, which is more than might be said for a plethora of disabled Opposition politicians on the public drip, who, if we still believed in their mantra, would happily be paying Saddam and Co kickbacks, via food-for-oil sanctions, to this very day, all the while, turning a blind eye to how such a totalitarian regime would even distribute such precious food (and medicines, etc) among its mates. I guess that’s the beauty of lack of incumbency. We can conveniently forget about those on the public drip who were seriously presenting such policies, at the same time as presenting the mentally deranged as serious PM material. Still, it’s fun recalling it all with 20/20 hindsight I guess.

  7. jquiggin
    March 1st, 2006 at 08:22 | #7

    “Well I guess that disabled employee did earn his keep in protecting Aussie wheat farmers’ markets’

    Umm, have you been reading the newspapers at all lately, observa ?

    As regards your first para, since you’re commenting on this blog and not naming and specific names, I think it’s reasonable to ask you to put up or shut up. Can you give a link to anything I;ve written that would support the suggestion that the passage you quote is in any sense a reversal of previous claims?

    You could start by looking here, for example, or here

  8. observa
    March 1st, 2006 at 08:56 | #8

    ‘Well I guess that disabled employee did earn his keep in protecting Aussie wheat farmers’ markets’

    I need to emphasise that this statement refers to the AWB’s machinations at the time- ie in an historical sense. Your point I presume, is that in the longer term Flugge and Co have jeopardised that market today. That’s fair enough criticism, but you also need to appreciate that those that advocated UN type food-for-oil dealings with Saddam, were in the long run heading down the same path (something we are told repeatedly nowadays should have been obvious to all of us at the time) The fact that COW invasion and regime change thwarted all that, needs to be appreciated, albeit that those who supported that tack, have to wear the criticism of any current state of affairs in Iraq. Just pointing out that neither side can have it’s cake and eat it here. My point is simply that a lack of incumbency can often allow such critics to wallow in their convenient memories in a more leisurely fashion than incumbents.

  9. Katz
    March 1st, 2006 at 09:13 | #9

    “Bugger. Now I’ll have to submit to a lifetime of mouse jokes from Jack. Worse, I won’t be able to count on help from Katz, since we are natural enemies.”

    Hey Farrell, leave the Mouse alone.

    I’ve suddenly developed a liking for the little critter.

    ****************

    To the issue at hand:

    Jack:

    “More generally, the conservative shift in broad culture is evident in the resurgence of evangelic Protestantism in the suburbs, surge in enrollments in religious and authoritarian schools, revival of the ANZAC myth, slow reconstruction of married two-parent families and general intolerance of any nonsense from intolerant ethnic gangstas. Flag waving is no longer “uncoolâ€?. Its all good.”

    I’ll let Jack’s evident glee at these developments pass without comment. Degustibus non dispudandum est.

    The change that Jack sniffs in the breeze is real.

    Of more interest, however, is the likely longevity of this newfound enthusiasm for kuche kirche kinder.

    Sometimes I wake up from a bit of a bender vowing “never again”. But let’s face it, a bit of naughtiness is too much fun to foreswear forever.

    If this cultural shift that Jack detects results in the extirpation of the creeping jesus puritanical nanny state Left, then good.

    As long as the Right doesn’t take all this as a sign to start banning and prosecuting and narrowing and straitening, then also good. They can handle snakes to their hearts’ content. They can even foam a bit in high dudgeon at the unregenerate ways of reprobates like myself. That’s often entertaining.

    But if they start banning a whole list of victimless “crimes” on the basis of their funny old orthodoxies, then we’ve all got a problem.

  10. observa
    March 1st, 2006 at 09:16 | #10

    I guess what I’m saying loud and clear to an experienced intelligent economist like yourself John Quiggin is this- Did you ever seriously consider that food-for-oil dealings with the Baathist Hussein regime could be above board and direct food, medicines and necessities where it was most needed? ie to ordinary Iraqi families and their children. If not, what were you ever going to do about that? We know what Bush, Blair, Howard and others did about it, but the troops home by Xmas crowd are free-riding in the media at present about what they always advocated for ordinary Iraqis via their precious gaggle of gangsters UN. Sooner or later MSM are going to wise up to Rudd and Cos free-riding here, if a Coalition politician doesn’t.

    Joe Public intuitively understands two knocked up whores, almost at term, arguing about who is the biggest whore because the other was knocked up first, even if the punditry doesn’t.

  11. March 1st, 2006 at 09:27 | #11

    …their precious gaggle of gangsters UN.

    So the UN which authorised the oil for food program is at fault because it created conditions/incentives for bribery to Saddam Hussein, but those actually paying the bribes are not at fault?

    Even if there had not been any sanctions, does anyone seriously think that the Iraqi government would not have used its monopsony power to extract bribes from wheat producers? Of course they would.

  12. observa
    March 1st, 2006 at 09:51 | #12

    Well alpaca, it’s a bit like hoping that with the comparative advantage gains from trade with monolithic state regimes (eg the AWB with wheat sales to the USSR), that none of those gains whatsoever would find their way into subsidising gulags. If you pop in the ear plugs, hold your nose, close your eyes and chant over and over to yourself, you might convince yourself it’s just possible. Meanwhile in the real world, we business types have to push on, without any internationally recognised definition as to what is a ‘legitimate’ tax , levy, charge or fee by govt, let alone what is a ‘legitimate’ govt. Naturally, it’s obvious to anyone and everyone, once a suitable pompously omniscient, public enquiry is set up to ascertain that some such fees and charges were actually paid to one particular totalitarian regime of interest at the time.

  13. observa
    March 1st, 2006 at 10:31 | #13

    The more cynical among us might trot out the wedge accusatory finger here, that this is largely about wedging the Coalition over the single desk wheat marketing policy, rather than one of deep, overriding principle. Now it’s true you can’t create a wedge, it has to exist by itself. However you can abandon your own principles to drive the wedge home for Machiavellian political ends, something Howard has often been accused of. That the lovers of the perceived benefits of collectivism eg unions, PBS, Medicare, etc, are suddenly prepared to abandon the principle for small farmers, should not be lost on the more discerning observer. It will be interesting to see what the ALP’s attitude to single desk marketing of wheat will be in the long run.

  14. Andrew
    March 1st, 2006 at 10:56 | #14

    “First up, here’s Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo making the point that Howard hasn’t, as so many have suggested, succeeded in shifting Australian political attitudes to the right�

    My sense is that this statement is wrong in terms of the move to right in Australia – although how you prove it I’ve got no idea. Quoting stats on the number of people who support same-sex relationships as a family is hardly conclusive! But it is right in terms that Howard has not been the catalyst for the shift. Howard has simply been the right man at the right time to be able to tap into the popular mood.

    I think it is a little insulting to the broad populace to suggest that John Howard dictates their political opinions. In fact, I think this is a common mistake that people on the left make – they underestimate the intelligence of the ‘great unwashed’. I guess this is where the common label (usually in a derogatory sense) of ‘elitism’ comes in – “I’m smarter than the average man – therefore I know what’s good for them”.

    In this day and age – the masses are relatively well-informed, relatively well-educated and can make up their own minds on most issues.

    I think we are becoming more conservative as a society. You read any number of articles in the popular media talking about how the X & Y generation are more ‘conservative’ than the baby boomers. I recall seeing a recent article in the AFR (could have been the Age) talking about how the young vote (18-30) is swinging behind Howard – when this was traditionally a time to vote for the left. I can’t remember the author of the quote – but the article started with a quote along the lines of;

    “Show me a 20 year old who isn’t a socialist and I’ll show you a person without a heart, show me a 40 year old who is still a socialist and I’ll show you someone who’s never grown up”. (that’s not the exact quote – but close enough).

    In my view – the reason we’ve become more conservative as a society is because of the long period we’ve had of economic prosperity – thanks to both Hawke/Keating, and Howard/Costello, and general world growth. Low Unemployment, interest rates low – people are very comfortable. When they are comfortable they become more conservative.

    I think Howard’s great skill has been in tapping this shift – he hasn’t caused it.

  15. March 1st, 2006 at 10:57 | #15

    For those who claim to have ‘values’ that guide their behaviour towards fellow human beings, the ‘oil-for-food’ scheme is an illustration that dumb sanctions are too easy for slippery political operators and business entrepreneurs to find their way round. The UN should never have got into that business and may have been persuaded by powerful nation members.

    I am surprised no one has commented on John Anderson’s fortunate sale of his AWB shares. He may yet face investigation for insider trading.

    As for Jack’s:

    “More generally, the conservative shift in broad culture is evident in the resurgence of evangelic Protestantism in the suburbs, surge in enrollments in religious and authoritarian schools, revival of the ANZAC myth, slow reconstruction of married two-parent families and general intolerance of any nonsense from intolerant ethnic gangstas. Flag waving is no longer “uncool�. Its all good.�

    Jack – compose in Word and use the spellchecker, please. I find all that tiresome nationalism too close to Pauline Hanson and nauseated by the thought that it might spread – and so could Cronulla Beach.

  16. observa
    March 1st, 2006 at 12:28 | #16

    Well it’s about time the O jumped on his smug hobby horse again to point out the obvious, that for any such sanctions to have both teeth and legitimacy, you need a legitimate policeman with pearly white teeth. Ipso facto my United Liberal Democratic Nations, rather than the toothless inclusion of the current gaggle of gangsters. The broader truth is, a ULDN, would have had both the teeth and legitimacy to enforce its definition of appropriate oil-for-food sanctions, if that’s what was constitutionally desired at the time(ie voted upon). Clear guidelines with clear policing, requires lawmakers and police drawn from law abiding international citizenry. You can’t have gangsters involved in lawmaking and policing here if you expect legitimate and honest outcomes. It’s hard enough guarding against the odd miscreant without starting out with a whole bunch of them in your camp.

    IMO a much tighter ULDN that decided food-for-oil sanctions were the initial way to go in dealing with Saddam, would also have been smart enough to realise that close policing of the transactions as well as delivery on the ground to all Iraqis was an imperative of such a policy. Given Saddam’s UN weapons inspectors stance, it’s highly unlikely he would have embraced such a tight FFO sanctions policy and a ULDN (eg one vote one value with no Security Council veto) would probably have taken the COW path as a result. That is of course, not something the current UN legitimacy crowd would care to admit to, which is not to say that a ULDN may not have found itself inheriting the same scenario in Iraq today, although the initial decision would have been binding on all to contribute to.

  17. Katz
    March 1st, 2006 at 13:04 | #17

    “The broader truth is, a ULDN, would have had both the teeth and legitimacy to enforce its definition of appropriate oil-for-food sanctions, if that’s what was constitutionally desired at the time(ie voted upon).”

    Maybe Observa’s ULDN could have put Trevor Flugge in charge of their program. Maybe he can’t use a computer, he’s blind and he’s half deaf, but judging from his grin in the gun-toting photo he’s got a great set of choppers.

    Yep. Trevor Flugge, even in his gun-totin’ gangsta mode, is the kind of public servant that makes you proud to be a citizen of one of the United Liberal Democratic Nations.

  18. Michael H.
    March 1st, 2006 at 13:12 | #18

    observa, it’s far from clear that your mythical ULDA would have committed to a war in Iraq. Though I guess that would rest on your definition of which countries are LD’s.

  19. Katz
    March 1st, 2006 at 13:17 | #19

    Michael H,

    You clearly haven’t been paying proper attention.

    An LD is a nation that would have voted to go to war against Saddam, not just the real Saddam, but the infinite number of hypothetical Saddams that inhabit all of those parallel universes in which the ULDN wields its benign authority.

  20. Michael H.
    March 1st, 2006 at 14:17 | #20

    Katz,

    That was my suspicion as well, but I thought I’d try to elicit some vaguely rational response.

    The clear implication from observa, is that a LD will be those who would go along with US policies.

  21. Andrew
    March 1st, 2006 at 15:17 | #21

    If I was putting countries into political baskets – I’d probably put France and Germany in the LD basket, and maybe even Russia. They certainly weren’t in favour of war in Iraq. So Observa, I’m not sure your mythical ULDN would have reached consensus on this clearly difficult problem.
    Management by consensus is rarely successful – at the end of the day someone has to make a decision.

  22. March 1st, 2006 at 19:30 | #22

    Willy Bach, you make it seem as if a shift to Pauling Hanson and a spread of “Cronulla” would be a bad thing.

  23. observa
    March 1st, 2006 at 23:47 | #23

    “Yep. Trevor Flugge, even in his gun-totin’ gangsta mode, is the kind of public servant that makes you proud to be a citizen of one of the United Liberal Democratic Nations.” ….which is why I said…”It’s hard enough guarding against the odd miscreant without starting out with a whole bunch of them in your camp.” …presumably you agree Katz?

    Michael and Andrew… Notwithstanding the stance of some LD countries like France, Germany, NZ at the time, it’s fairly clear to me that COW countries would have held sway in any majority, one country-one value voting system with no power of veto, the latter a sticking point for many critics of the US. There is no reason to expect unanimity among LDs, nor perhaps wise decision-making, but majorities would be binding on all. We might all argue about the definition of an LD at the margin of membership, but a low bar will of course produce a lowest common denominator international authority, whilst lifting the bar too esoterically with po-mo pipe dreams, would be equally counterproductive. However I think we can all agree that the likes of a Mugabe, et al, add nothing to the legitimacy of international decision-making and world policing and it’s fairly impossible to argue the undemocratic deserve a seat at such a democratic gathering.

    More generally I think the FFO debacle with Saddam, shows the glaring weaknesses of the current UN. Basically everyone now agrees that FFO was always doomed to fail, simply because without supervision of trade and the subsequent supervision of delivery of necessities, the inevitable occurred. My point is that with such a broad church, the current UN is fatally flawed, without the will to act in any principled, firm and coherent manner. It’s long overdue for a tightening of the tenets of association of the membership. That may not absolutely guarantee good decision-making by the new body, but it may well guarantee strong united action in carrying out those decisions, such as FFO sanctions and the like. Then perhaps if such sanctions were effectively implemented, there may be less need for military intervention in the Iraqs and Afghanistans in the long run.

    As for the accusation that I only want LDs that fall in behind US thinking, that’s absolute poppycock. I couldn’t imagine a ULDN without some friendly banter with cheese eating surrender monkeys needing a little more time, some internal riots, and the odd cartoon controversy to see the error of their ways and fall in behind Bush’s Axis of Evil appreciation of places like Iran. What does concern me more is those that feel the need to fall back on a gaggle of gangsters for their moral compass from time to time in such matters.

  24. jquiggin
    March 2nd, 2006 at 06:32 | #24

    Observa, the US couldn’t get a majority at the UNSC, and IIRC the only obvious candidate for exclusion among the members at the time was Syria.

    More generally, it was pointed out at the time that the nearly all governments signing up for the COW did so against the wishes of the majority of their citizens.

  25. Katz
    March 2nd, 2006 at 07:22 | #25

    “presumably you agree Katz?”

    No

  26. March 2nd, 2006 at 08:56 | #26

    Surely in this weird new fictional ‘ULDN’ the US would not be allowed entry for previous abuse of its veto power, proving its undemocratic stance.

    Unless of course a fictional US is going to be a member of the fictional ‘ULDN’.

  27. Michael H.
    March 2nd, 2006 at 10:57 | #27

    It’s the usual, and strange, suggestion that the hypothetical LD’s have a monopoly on moral and righteous behaviour. There’s plenty to indicate otherwise, as Ghandi’s alleged reply to the question ‘What do you think of Western Civilisation – That it might be a good idea’, suggests.

    Observa, I’ve no problem with the general thrust of your point – that the UN is flawed. There are no end of examples that can be thought of that make you want to cry. I doubt that anyone who you describe as the “UN legitimacy crowd” would disagree. The direction for improvement is the debate. Your proposal tends more towards the ‘stick ‘ approach, while the current format is more ‘carrot’ than ‘stick’.

    Personally, my expectation/hope/fantasy is that the UN can serve a role where it acts as a brake on those who have the power to do whatever they like. As the Iraq example shows, it currently has some trouble doing that.

  28. March 2nd, 2006 at 15:57 | #28

    My musings inspired by Howard’s decade as PM are here:

    http://paulwatson.blogspot.com/2006/03/howards-ten-year-anniversary-funnily.html

  29. Andrew
    March 2nd, 2006 at 17:06 | #29

    “Personally, my expectation/hope/fantasy is that the UN can serve a role where it acts as a brake on those who have the power to do whatever they like”
    But that’s the problem with the current system – the UN acts as a brake on anything getting done. If the UN charter was set up to allow decisions/actions – then perhaps we might have avoided the whole Iraq debacle. As it is, as soon as anything controversial pops up the UN is paralysed by indecision.

  30. March 2nd, 2006 at 21:27 | #30

    It seems to me that a mention of Erdõs numbers in a post called Linkfest is perfectly appropriate given what those numbers mean.:)

  31. hirvi
    March 5th, 2006 at 14:53 | #31

    Indeed, Eszter.

    You might know a somewhat lower level ‘claim-to-fame-game’ from Germany: how many handshakes you are from someone – ie, if you’ve shaken hands with the Hungarian PM, you’re one handshake away; if you’ve shaken hands with someone who’s shaken hands with him, you’re two handshakes away, and so on.

    This can be fascinating, but also quite horrifying.

    it also might explain the spread of H5N1 in some way

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