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End of an era (for me, anyway)

April 3rd, 2012

A little while ago, I got a message from the Fin to tell me they wouldn’t be running any more columns from me, as they are bringing in some new commentators. Given my run-in with Michael Stutchbury (then at the Oz, now Editor-in-Chief of the Fin) last year, and other changes at the Fin since he came on board, I wasn’t surprised. Still, it’s the end of a long-running association, which started, ironically (at least in the Alanis Morrisette sense of the term) when Michael was opinion editor there. My first column, advocating the exclusion of food from the GST, ran in 1992. I wrote occasional pieces after that, and I was a regular columnist for 15 years, which is a very long stint by Australian standards, at least for someone who isn’t a full-time journalist.

I’ve enjoyed it a lot, and I think I’ve made a useful contribution, but now it’s time to move on. I’ll certainly continue to take part in public debate, through this blog and other media, but this gives me a chance to stop and think more clearly about where I want to go with this part of my life.

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  1. April 3rd, 2012 at 13:56 | #1

    Don Boudreaux (cafehayek.com) writes so many letters to the editor (2 or 3 a week) I would suspect him of being autistic if I didn’t first suspect him of being paid for it. Please don’t do that.

    There’s always a demand for refutation of the neoliberal paradigm du jur. Unfortunately the pay is all on the other side as well.

    Might I suggest expert witness? There are so many journalists/solicitors who need someone they can rely on to tell them when they are hearing “Koch funded propaganda” as I like to call it.

  2. paul walter
    April 3rd, 2012 at 14:01 | #2

    Well. I’ve just seen the story in Crikey and have described the thing as gutless and explained why I think why. Currently on automods there.
    Gutless, gutless, gutless…death of discourse and a craven concession that, as Quiggin argues, privatisation is usually a zombie dud.
    Stutchbury doesn’t like privatisation questioned so he sacks the sceptic rather than even attempt to mount a defence based on facts and figures?
    What is this?
    Somebody please turn that tape of “Horst Wessell Lied” OFF!!

  3. Freelander
    April 3rd, 2012 at 14:10 | #3

    I wonder what a ‘free press’ really means? Does it mean anyone who is a billionaire can manage to get their voice heard?

    Sounds fair. They are after all “the” most habitually discriminated against and marginalised group.

  4. Sam
    April 3rd, 2012 at 14:28 | #4

    what run in?

  5. Uncle Milton
    April 3rd, 2012 at 14:51 | #5

    It’s unlikely that the Australian will offer you a column, but would you accept if offered?

  6. Robert (not from UK)
    April 3rd, 2012 at 15:00 | #6

    15 years as a columnist, yes, that is an impressively long stint, not least by Australian standards. I shall regret your departure from AFR, Professor; you and the late Peter Ruehl (RIP) were the only regular writers in that newspaper of whom I could understand every sentence.

  7. frankis
    April 3rd, 2012 at 15:43 | #7

    I first read you in 1992 in the Fin; it’s been a grand 20 years. Fairfax needs to be making better decisions if they’re to survive let alone prosper; I’ve no doubt which party is the loser in this. In one clear sense it’s just one more win to the blogosphere at the expense of the MSM.

  8. Donald Oats
    April 3rd, 2012 at 15:45 | #8

    Please forgive me for a long comment, but it seems apposite. Firstly though, well done on being a sane voice in the press, for so long. However:

    I think it is just another marker of how notional the idea of the free press is: it is free, but only in the sense that it is free to write anything its owners want, but not free in a truth-telling sense. Therefore, the idea that the press somehow keeps politicians honest, or provides the public with unbiased analysis, is well and truly dead in the water; if ever it was alive, that is.

    Over the course of my lifetime, I have witnessed a great shift in the “set-point” of the press, a great shift to the most conservative right ideology. We are entering the epoch of the Corporatocracy / Plutarchy, even as we are told we never had it so good.

    I am currently reading a book by Tzvetan Todorov, called “In Defence of The Enlightenment”, and a most pertinent section on pages 91 to 93 notes:

    Truth cannot dictate the good but neither should it be subjugated to it. Scientism and moralism are both alien to the spirit of the Enlightenment. But a third danger exists, and that is the very notion of truth must be considered irrelevant.

    [My italics.]

    Todorov goes on:

    In a study on 1984, the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski praised Orwell for having recognized the importance of the challenge to truth in totalitarian regimes. It is not only that political leaders in such regimes occasionally resorted to lies—this they did everywhere. It it that the very distinction between truth and falsehood, between truth and fiction, became superfluous in light of the purely pragmatic considerations of usefulness and convenience. This is why in such regimes science was no longer immune to ideological attacks and the notion of objective information had lost its meaning. Not only was history rewritten as a function of the needs of the moment, but also biological and physical discoveries were denied if they were deemed inappropriate. It `is the great cognitive tirumph of totalitarianism. By managing to abrogate the very idea of truth, it can no longer be accused of lying.’ Kolakowski concluded.^56

    So far, so good. The kicker, though is the next bit:

    One might think that this presents a danger in totalitarian countries, not in democracies. But several recent episodes in the United States illustrate the new fragility of truth.

    The first event of this nature was the decision in certain schools to teach the theory of evolution based on Darwin’s work and the biblical myth of creation (or `intelligent design’ as it is called) as two `hypotheses’ equally worthy of respect. In a country where, according to polls, 73 per cent of the population believe in life after death and 39 per cent think that the Bible was directly dictated by God and should be taken literally,^57 it is not surprising that many people prefer the biblical version to the biological one. But the convictions of the individual concern that individual alone and have validity only in the private arena: this is, moreover, in keeping with the spirit and the letter of the American constitution…

    …A second example…the justification of the war against Iraq based on the wepons of mass destruction that it was said to have. We know now that no such weapons existed, but that is not the crux of the problem since their presence was possible…This contempt for truth was confirmed by Paul Wolfowitz, one of the people involved, when he admitted that the weapons of mass destruction argument was chosen because it was the one that could most easily galvanize support from a large majority of the population. He did not even mention the question of the truth of the argument…

    …In another area altogether, we learned some time ago that the federal government deliberately altered information on a number of scientific reports on global warming that did not substantiate its position on the Kyoto Protocol. The fact is that when the status of truth is manipulated, we cannot be said to be living in a liberal democracy any more.

    I think Todorov has pretty much nailed it, and this meshes with several themes running on this blog and others, of late. Are we members of a liberal democracy, or not?

  9. paul walter
    April 3rd, 2012 at 16:03 | #9

    To laugh or cry?
    My comment got hauled down at Crikey. I can (almost) understand the tabloid right’s fear of a man of Quiggin’s intellect, if ideas are some thing to feared rather than welcomed.
    But me?
    It’s a sad day, when something like Crikey is afeared of a nobody, but far worse when the nation loses a respected rational voice to prejudice, cowardice and hidden, nasty greedy, agendasat a once-respected journal.

  10. paul walter
    April 3rd, 2012 at 16:06 | #10

    Donald Oats, a beaut, reasoned explanation, logically framed and presented.
    This is what they are afraid of?
    Has the world gone mad?

  11. Donald Oats
    April 3rd, 2012 at 17:09 | #11

    @paul walter

    Best not to speculate on that, for that way lie madness. 🙂

  12. April 3rd, 2012 at 17:10 | #12

    This is truly sad and tacky – just when the AFR is busily waving its credentials as fearless journalists at the Murdoch imperium, while surrendering to the same horrid economic ideology. Gutless is right.

  13. hc
    April 3rd, 2012 at 18:06 | #13

    A pity. I often read and always enjoyed. A different view of the world and thoughtful. Well written too. The question everyone asks is “how do you manage to do all the things that you do?” Did you ever compose a column while running a marathon?

  14. April 3rd, 2012 at 19:05 | #14

    Thanks for this post (disregard my question in’Academic Austerity’).

    Of course, an editor-in-chief can do as he wishes but I would have thought that petty vendettas with disregard for the wants of the paying readers was a much more ‘Murdoch’ trait than a Fairfax one.

  15. Robert (not from UK)
    April 3rd, 2012 at 19:12 | #15

    Megan :Of course, an editor-in-chief can do as he wishes but I would have thought that petty vendettas with disregard for the wants of the paying readers was a much more ‘Murdoch’ trait than a Fairfax one.

    Ah, but Megan, C. S. Lewis’s famous definition of avant-garde art – “The customer is always wrong” – surely applies to the Murdoch media as well?

  16. April 3rd, 2012 at 20:18 | #16

    Yes, but I think it should have stayed there!

    The Fin has also been running up the anti-science stuff disturbingly frequently. Not so much editorially/journalistically but certainly in opinion and letters.

    Could Fairfax be fishing for a new niche demographic of ‘feeble-minded impressionable rich people’?

  17. BilB
    April 3rd, 2012 at 21:04 | #17

    So is this the first slice from Gina Rinehart?

    A taste of what is to come?

    There needs to be a new name for the battle ahead. The “culture wars” will not cover this battle to legitimise Bull S>>t in the name of profits at the expense of the Planet.

  18. Donald Oats
    April 3rd, 2012 at 21:09 | #18

    Who owns AFR at the moment?

  19. BilB
    April 3rd, 2012 at 22:15 | #19

    SMH according to wiki

  20. Alphonse
    April 3rd, 2012 at 23:18 | #20


    Google “Quiggin Stutchbury”. I recommend the Deltoid hit for a nice linky start.

    Is this a case of the same Stutchbury at a different rag, or of a similar rag deploying the same Stutchbury?

  21. paul walter
    April 4th, 2012 at 00:05 | #21

    Wasn’t Dateline on Murdoch’s dirty tricks hacking unit a revelation?
    And who would deny ABC management have taken a crowbar to channel 2- all that’s missing is a paid ads in place of the monotonous flow of in-house promos, quiz shows and unreality TV. Are they speeding it up before any more sh-t hits the fan re Murdoch, et al, as to a privatisation?
    There seems to be a “harmonising” process already long in place that government either will not or cannot direct in any way toward the public interest.
    Better not have people doing msm who actually know what they’re talking about re the reality of privatisations, neoliberalism etc, so hiring and sooling the rabid attack dog Stutchbury onto Quiggin, who has bested him in reasoned debate- what a snapshop of the the debauched mentality of corporate msm!?
    Rinehart on the ABC a night ago, was chilling…

  22. April 4th, 2012 at 00:35 | #22

    I wouldn’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia:

    “Journalists writing for the Financial Review include Alan Mitchell and Laura Tingle. Regular opinion columnists include former leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, John Hewson, a frequent critic of former Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard; John Roskam of the Institute of Public Affairs; Tony Harris, former Auditor-General of New South Wales and John Quiggin.”

    I’m surprised that end bit hasn’t been assigned to the memory hole yet.

  23. Socrates
    April 4th, 2012 at 07:03 | #23

    I respect your feeling on this JQ. Twenty years is a long time to keep up the struggle; I found one hour of arguing with Peter Lang here last night frustrating enough. But I will miss your pieces at the AFR. The AFR and the Advertiser are the only papers available to read at lunchtime at my work.

    This only confirms for me too, there is declining utility in buying newspapers generally. Sad.

  24. ajwak1
    April 4th, 2012 at 09:16 | #24

    Their loss John.
    We hope that the Fin is as good under Stutchbury, but you were one of the best things there so that seems unlikely. Surely, you wont have difficulty finding places to publish. Keep up the good work.

  25. paul walter
    April 4th, 2012 at 10:49 | #25

    They can run John Roskam, but not John Quiggin.

  26. Mel
    April 4th, 2012 at 11:34 | #26

    PrQ, you’re easily in the top dozen thinkers in Oz. Hopefully you’ll now have time to write another book or two. Cheers.

  27. Donald Oats
    April 4th, 2012 at 16:27 | #27

    I hope you continue finding ways to make public comment, that’s for sure. Personally, I’m also interested in what your views are concerning recent events in Queenland; how about the axing of the literary awards, for one? Is this really a good saving for Qld, or is it perhaps a politically motivated equivalent of flipping the bird at the socialists (or whatever Newman may imagine writers to be)? Should Olympic atheletes have their funding deleted as well, in the name of balancing budgets?

  28. Freelander
    April 4th, 2012 at 16:29 | #28

    Is there any truth to the rumour that Andrew Bolt now has your old gig?

  29. Jill Rush
    April 4th, 2012 at 16:37 | #29

    The AFR is going down the gurgler and hopes by appealing to those with money by reinforcing their view of the world that it will stay afloat. Not likely by pretending it is the rich man’s version of the Oz.

  30. April 4th, 2012 at 19:25 | #30

    @Donald Oats

    I know you directed your question at Pr Q, but here’s my view on the “Premier’s Literary Awards”:

    The major prize was won by only one Queenslander (Janette Turner-Hospital) as far as I can tell. As with so many other things in Qld after too many years of the same government, they were characterised by what I think of as cultural nepotism.

    There is an anointed “in crowd” and everyone else stands no real chance of breaking through. Coincidentally, this goes for the music scene even more so.

    I don’t think this is any great loss to creativity or the arts in this State. Certainly J.M.Coetzee, Peter Carey, Helen Garner and Richard Flanagan shouldn’t suffer too much from its axing.

    I’m not even very convinced that it constitutes an “up yours” at ‘socialists’ or writers generally by Newman. In my view, it is a much more precisely aimed “up yours” at the in crowd of “Labor Luvvies” and, as with the election result more generally, will not result in much angst in the broader community despite what same in crowd would have everyone else believe.

  31. April 4th, 2012 at 20:02 | #31

    Not surprised.

    I used to get the AFR as it was the only paper worth getting – the policy reporting was good, with the added bonus of a good Quiggin read.

    But I’ve noticed a decline in the last few months. Eg, what used to be reporting on how carbon trading worked and the ins and outs of various schemes as information became available was very good – but it’s all ETS=Tax bullshit now.

  32. Liam Auer
    April 5th, 2012 at 13:32 | #32

    Hopefully Business Spectator offers you a gig so you can balance out terrible headlines like this one:


  33. John from Newcastle.
    April 5th, 2012 at 19:13 | #33

    Now that you are leaving the AFR I can start to read it again.
    Would you please take Tingle with you.
    Good riddance, John..

  34. atomou
    April 5th, 2012 at 20:26 | #34

    Well now that you’ve been disposed of, I might buy the paper again.

    have a nice day. Ciao

  35. Donald Oats
    April 5th, 2012 at 21:34 | #35

    You are probably correct that it is aimed more narrowly at Labor “luvvies”—as you characterise them—than at writers, per se. Still, it seems a bit precious. Guess we’ll see, once Newman has had a year or so to rock’n’roll.

    @John from Newcastle.
    If the existence of John Quiggin as an occasional writer for the AFR was such a deterent for you, then you are overly sensitive, I’d say. The vast majority of the content of the AFR has been fairly factual, or is based on business reports, media releases, and also the usual journalist just digging around. An utterly committed business-friendly newspaper, and nothing wrong with that.

    For me, the thing that was cool about the AFR was that although it was clearly coming at stuff from the perspective of business, it generally didn’t indulge in taking sides on the politics, or at least not greatly so. The beauty of that was it meant that government policies were analysed with a view to informing the reader, rather than used as a tool to proselytize with regards to a favourite political party. A reader had some hope of being taken through the mechanics of a policy, rather than arguing about whether the policy is good or bad, or whether the government should be kicked out or allowed to reign unmolested. Once a reader understands the policy, they’re free to form their own view on whether they like what the government is doing, or do not like it.

    Reading a Stutchbury piece in The Australian often felt like stumbling into the middle of a shoot-out between him and the ALP/Greens/Indeps, with Stutchbury owning the bullets: that’s his style. Stutchbury should concentrate on excellence in business journalism, but I suspect he’ll decide it to be his mission to tinge the journalism with put-downs and snarks about the ALP, the Greens, and even some moderates in the Liberal coalition. Under Stutchbury I suspect that the relative neutrality the AFR journalists have strived for will be under persistent pressure to favour the conservative side of politics, at the expense of the centre-right, through to leftwing, or greens. I hope my scepticism is misplaced, for Australia does not really need two flagrantly rightwing, conservative national newspapers.

  36. April 5th, 2012 at 22:06 | #36

    We really do need some kind of investigation into who gets paid to troll comments on blogs using identical talking points.

    These last two for example, never seen here before (as far as I can recall), suddenly pop up to tell the host that they are happy he isn’t in the AFR anymore.

    Yippee fellas (and if not ‘bots’, they are almost certainly fellas), off you go – buy the AFR to get your IPA talking points in printed form from a (formerly) reputable journal. Yay! You won.

    If I wasted electrons on the online versions/variants of the hate media I’d probably know which puppeteer sent these recent visitors. But I don’t and don’t care to.

    There really is a palpable desperation to the neocon/climate denial/Koch/Murdoch axis going on. I’m afraid it is not going to turn out well for normal people as these lunatics try to take us all down with them.

  37. Mel
    April 5th, 2012 at 22:58 | #37

    A quick check confirms “amotou” and “John from Newcastle.” are both Andrew Bolt regulars and I suspect both have come running at their master’s beckoning. Here doggies, lap, lap, lap.


  38. rog
    April 6th, 2012 at 05:21 | #38

    I find it hard to understand how Bolt has allowed himself to develop into such a contemptible man.

    Real Climate look back at a Hansen et al article from the 1981 and find the model to be robust.

    To conclude, a projection from 1981 for rising temperatures in a major science journal, at a time that the temperature rise was not yet obvious in the observations, has been found to agree well with the observations since then, underestimating the observed trend by about 30%, and easily beating naive predictions of no-change or a linear continuation of trends. It is also a nice example of a statement based on theory that could be falsified and up to now has withstood the test. The “global warming hypothesis” has been developed according to the principles of sound science.

  39. CJ
    April 6th, 2012 at 06:20 | #39

    Why not write regular pieces for ‘the conversation’. I’d suggest macrobusiness as well, although the quality is declining now that everyone knows about it.

  40. BilB
    April 6th, 2012 at 11:49 | #40

    Mel @ 36,

    The two are quite likely the same person. The evidence is in the hour and a quarter that it took to pen the second two sentence contribution. This delay would be consistent with the quality of the comment. It also provides possible evidence as to why Bolt “appears” to be so popular.

  41. Johnny Johnson
    April 6th, 2012 at 12:19 | #41

    Wah, Wah, Wah.

  42. BilB
    April 6th, 2012 at 13:17 | #42

    Maybe that is three into one.

  43. Bob Thompson
    April 6th, 2012 at 13:27 | #43

    Gone but not lamented.

  44. Fran Barlow
    April 6th, 2012 at 13:37 | #44


    It’s called “freeping” Mel

  45. BilB
    April 6th, 2012 at 13:50 | #45

    OK, Fran. Maybe I need to install that for my product website.

  46. Michael Harris
    April 6th, 2012 at 17:02 | #46

    I think the fact that Bolt felt compared to mention you at all and that his cronies have flocked over here to gloat indicates that you had something of an impact. I do hope you continue to.

  47. Freelander
    April 6th, 2012 at 18:08 | #47

    @John from Newcastle.

    Rather than read to be informed, do you read to stay misinformed?

    Surely the Oz sates that desire?

  48. April 6th, 2012 at 18:20 | #48

    I’ve noted elsewhere that the best/simplest/most succinct and irrefutable put down for Murdoch’s operatives, collectively, is “Phone Hacking Scum.”

    They can’t deny it. They can’t defend it. And the more people who realise it’s systemic and the corporate cultural norm the sooner the whole wicked enterprise will be limited to its rightful place in the irrelevence corner.

    As an aside, today yet MORE Murdoch illegal hacking comes to light. They admit it (and that it was, technically, illegal) but say they “did nothing wrong”.

  49. April 6th, 2012 at 18:40 | #49

    This may be more apropriate for the “Academic Austerity” thread but in light of our recent visitors on this one….

    I just popped over to “informationclearinghouse” to get some REAL news and the daily quote on the front page is:

    “Where suspicion fills the air and holds scholars in line for fear of their jobs, there can be no exercise of the free intellect. Supineness and dogmatism take the place of inquiry. A problem can no longer be pursued to its edges. Fear stalks the classroom. The teacher is no longer a stimulant to adventurous thinking; she becomes instead a pipe line for safe and sound information. A deadening dogma takes the place of free inquiry. Instruction tends to become sterile; pursuit of knowledge is discouraged; discussion often leaves off where it should begin.” – — William O. Douglas — (1898-1980), US. Supreme Court Justice

  50. Fran Barlow
    April 6th, 2012 at 22:06 | #50


    The Oz is for some, the drug of choice, for it acts as a salve.

  51. charles
    April 6th, 2012 at 22:09 | #51

    It’s a sad day for the fin review as they slide into becoming just another tabloid, a trend that started months ago.

    At least they can cliam to be the last Australian paper worth a read.

  52. charles
    April 6th, 2012 at 22:14 | #52

    The AFR is going down the gurgler and hopes by appealing to those with money by reinforcing their view of the world that it will stay afloat. Not likely by pretending it is the rich man’s version of the Oz.

    I thought the AFR was safe, you can’t afford to invest when the information your getting is rubbish. The deterioration of the AFR would suggest that even investors are turning away from papers.

  53. April 6th, 2012 at 23:34 | #53


    Just like hacking into a murdered child’s phone for commercial gain:

    ‘But Ryley issued a statement yesterday saying the hacking had been “editorially justified”. He said: “We do not take such decisions lightly or frequently. They require finely balanced judgement based on individual circumstances and must always be subjected to the proper editorial controls.”‘

    ALL News Corp outlets are justifiably tainted by the epithet of Phone Hacking Scum.

  54. Freelander
    April 6th, 2012 at 23:50 | #54

    Some large multinational corporations are best understood as international organizations, profit driven, with the guiding principle “whatever it takes “.

    Not looking at you Rupert.

  55. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 00:12 | #55

    Sorry, meant to type ‘international criminal organisations ‘ ..

    Why don’t they use the US Rico laws on corporations more often.n?

  56. April 7th, 2012 at 14:43 | #56

    Pr Q stoically laments:

    A little while ago, I got a message from the Fin to tell me they wouldn’t be running any more columns from me, as they are bringing in some new commentators. Given my run-in with Michael Stutchbury (then at the Oz, now Editor-in-Chief of the Fin) last year, and other changes at the Fin since he came on board, I wasn’t surprised. Still, it’s the end of a long-running association, which started, ironically (at least in the Alanis Morrisette sense of the term) when Michael was opinion editor there.

    Commiserations on losing the gig. Obviously the opportunity for professional and political pay-back was to tempting to resist.

    Congratulations on being, by far and away, the best economics commentator in the Southern Hemisphere. I am afraid Krugman pips you for the global gong.

    To go from a grand thing to a petty thing, I have been booted off plenty of blog sites (Catallaxy, Larvatus Prodeo and Crooked Timber commenting) in my time, for constantly criticising and lampooning the post-modern liberal Conventional Wisdom, in both its economic and ethnic manifestations. Its no big deal, you’ll get over it.

    Its a pity though that so-called liberals are so sensitive to criticism that they can’t endure even a few derisive comments, which are now safely quarantined under the category of “troll”. Apparently cognitive dissonance is dangerous to mental health and public safety.

    I guess that the FinRev, as official organ of economic (post-modern) liberalism, has had enough off hosting its resident gadfly. Post-modern liberalism is in its decadent phase and can no longer afford such luxuries. The mass media, for obvious reasons, is feeling the pinch even more.

    These days political discourse, like politics itself, has been reduced to “Who, Whom” as the various contestants squabble over whatever victory spoils are left there for the taking. Land of the free and home of the brave, I wonder if a precious Bill of Rights will do anything for the right to free speech if no one is serious about exercising it?

  57. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 14:54 | #57

    A Bill of Rights didn’t seem to do anything (positive) for rights in the land of the flea.

  58. April 7th, 2012 at 20:22 | #58

    Its amazing to me that the more Very Serious People talk about freedom and cultural diversity (both anthropological and ideological) the less actual freedom and cultural diversity there actually is.

    This is by far and away the most conformist age I can remember both personally and historically. Everyone is desperate to keep in step with the fashion-victimized herd, so much so that the very worst criticism that can be made of a person is to be “out of step” or “controversial” or “eccentric”. And of course everywhere you go right the way round the world there are big box stores with identical catalogues.

    And not surprisingly it is also the age of intellectual midgets and petty vindictive conflicts where the stakes are so low.

    Just look at the absolutely panic-stricken reaction by corporate Australia to the unfortunate Ben Polis for his, obviously medication-deprived, rant on Facebook. What should have been dismissed and perhaps chastised as a temporary loss of composure has now been turned into a “career ending move” (CEM)

    In many, although not all, ways people were much freer to speak their mind and do their own thing in our grand-parents and parents day. I can remember a number of eccentric old ladies in our street. No one seemed to mind, in fact they tended to be regarded with affectionate amusement.

    What a pathetic bunch of couch-potatoe eating channel surfing cowards we have all become.

  59. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 22:32 | #59

    @Jack Strocchi

    You are entirely right on that one!!!

  60. April 8th, 2012 at 14:18 | #60

    And the news feed brings glad tidings: John Derbyshire has been sacked by (the emasculated) National Review for violating the tenets of ethnic liberalism: engaging in anthropological pattern recognition and prudential advice to his children. This makes a nice book-end for Pr Q’s sacking due to violating the tenets of economic liberalism.

    A great victory for freedom and a well-deserved defeat for those who would recklessly make practical application of Bayesian probability theory to a problem in civic life. Its especially wonderful when you consider the dazzling successes of economic and ethnic liberalism over the past decade. The spectacular economic growth engendered by financial markets, the amazingly burst of creativity triggered by cultural diversity. Its all too much for words.

    Pretty soon there will be a complete conformity of opinion in all major press organs which signifies the final victory of post-modern liberalism. Always remember the key slogans of Newspeak: “War is Peace”, Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength.” If you keep those in mind all the time there will be very little chance of committing thought crime.

  61. April 8th, 2012 at 14:35 | #61

    Even better still, the Derb has just been diagnosed with cancer. So he will lose his job and perhaps his life all in one year. That will teach him to step out of line.

  62. April 8th, 2012 at 14:53 | #62

    Just a reminder of how things have changed, for the worse, in intellectual life, on the Right and on the Left over the past decade.

    National Review used to boast the following writers on its mast head or as occasional contributors:

    Buckley assembled an eclectic group of writers: traditionalists, Catholic intellectuals, libertarians and ex-Communists. They included: Russell Kirk, James Burnham, Frank Meyer, and Willmoore Kendall, and Catholics L. Brent Bozell, Harry V. Jaffa, Garry Wills, William Schlamm, John Dos Passos, Whittaker Chambers.

    Plus Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn; Max Eastman, Ernst van den Haag, Milton Friedman, Frank Knopfelmacher. The list could go on with many other luminaries making the odd appearance.

    These writers were smart and interesting in their own write. Just as importantly they were worldly, so that what they wrote felt like it could be usable as well as noteworthy.

    Now their star attractions are Richard Lowry and Jonathan Goldberg. What a pathetic joke.

    The same process is observable in most liberal organs in the Fairfax Media, which now give the impression they are written by an editorial board composed of squabbling schoolgirls, same-sex marriage fanatics and emasculated Beta-males. The editorial tone is dictated by the status-anxieties of the A-B demographic which are not exactly the thing to get my pulse racing.

    The range of acceptable liberal opinion now spans from Adele Horin to Chris Berg. That is to say, people who write columns by punching a macro key.

    One yearns for the sound of the voice of experience.

  63. Robert (not from UK)
    April 8th, 2012 at 15:11 | #63

    Mr Strocchi, Is John Derbyshire’s cancer definitely of the fatal kind? I read a report on it earlier in 2012 (can’t recall where it appeared or by whom it was written) and didn’t get the impression from this piece that this particular type of cancer automatically carried a death sentence.

  64. Fran Barlow
    April 8th, 2012 at 16:04 | #64

    Browsing the intertubes the other day, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d stumbled across the Man from Strocchiverse‘s intellectual soulmate — Christopher (Kit) Lasch. I knew Jack reminded me of someone.

    Sadly, he has parted company with the land of the lving, but he died raging against “the elites” and “the culture of narcissism” and demanding a return to family values, or something very much like it while insisting that he was some sort of enemy of big capitalism.

  65. Tom
    April 10th, 2012 at 11:56 | #65

    @Jack Strocchi

    Although I disagree with Ross Gittins’ pieces more than half the time, he is still one of the worth readings in SMH. However, since some of his pieces attacks neoliberalism ideology (e.g. How Business is White-Anting the Weekend), there is a chance that he may go as well given that Professor Quiggin has been sacked by AFR. When that happens I’m pretty sure FairFax is off my reading list.

  66. gerard
    April 10th, 2012 at 13:39 | #66

    just in case anyone cares why Derbyshire was sacked (and/or why Jack is upset about it), it’s because he wrote an article arguing that all non-black parents should give their non-black children a 15-point educational “talk”, including such “anthropological pattern recognition and prudential advice” as:

    “(9) A small cohort of blacks, in my experience around five percent, is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of blacks (around half) will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming. ”

    “(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
    (10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
    (10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
    (10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
    (10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
    (10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
    (10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
    (10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
    (10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving. ”

    “(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”


    What’s the world coming to when a self-professed racist can’t even write a racist parenting guide without losing his writing job in America’s most prominent conservative magazine? A slippery slope to an Orwellian dystopia, clearly.

  67. gerard
    April 10th, 2012 at 13:39 | #67

    /blockquote fail

  68. Freelander
    April 10th, 2012 at 15:19 | #68

    Yes. Brings a tear to one’s eye ….

  69. John Quiggin
    April 10th, 2012 at 17:07 | #69

    @Jack I can’t say I appreciate the comparison to Derbyshire. Gerard nails him pretty thoroughly. Nothing more on this topic, please, from either side.

  70. April 10th, 2012 at 19:07 | #70

    No doubt the Derb feels likewise.
    Everyone has their blind spots.
    I’ve been sacked from my highly unpaid job as thread re-railer, again!

  71. Ernestine Gross
    April 12th, 2012 at 19:20 | #71

    JQ, your column will be missed. My husband pulled out a copy of your 27 September 2001 article in the FinRiv, titled “Free speech sits ill with a free market”. More than 10 years later, it is still current.

    On behalf of my household, a thank your for your FinRev columns.

  72. Freelander
    April 12th, 2012 at 21:23 | #72

    People that can’t be brought price themselves out of a free market.

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