Home > Boneheaded stupidity, World Events > Pot, meet kettle

Pot, meet kettle

February 20th, 2014

Andrew Bolt has a column (no link) in which he attacks a number of Marxist academics on the basis that they are morally responsible for all the crimes committed by Marxist regimes, regardless of their personal attitude to those regimes. Rather than explore the problems with this kind of cliam, I’ll point out that

* The Iraq war, launched on the basis of lies, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and left millions homeless

* Bolt eagerly supported the war and propagated the lies told to justify it

* Bolt derided and defamed those who correctly predicted its disastrous consequences

* Even when it was obvious that the death toll from the war was huge, and certain to grow further, Bolt continued to lie, and offered no apology to those he had defamed

* To this day, Bolt has continued to defend the war, and failed to acknowledge the falsehood of the claims he made in its support

Bolt is in exactly the same moral position as an unrepentant apologist for Stalinism or Maoism.

Categories: Boneheaded stupidity, World Events Tags:
  1. zoot
    February 20th, 2014 at 20:57 | #1

    Stand by for the flying monkeys.

  2. Megan
    February 20th, 2014 at 21:03 | #2

    Andrew Bolt is a stooge.

    I had never heard of him until the “Bolt-Watch” website came to my attention.

    I never click on anything Murdoch owned but I’ll guess it is safe to assume that he didn’t mention Murdoch’s $1bn freebie from the taxpayer or the travails of the phone-hacking-scum trial currently underway?

    The latest from last night was the reveleation of the lovely Blair email linking them all together and suggesting a “Hutton style” inquiry to absolve them of wrongdoing.

    Scum.

  3. Megan
    February 20th, 2014 at 21:23 | #3

    Micallef did a great spot on Bolt once.

    I’ll repeat a bit, again:

    …inflammatory…selective misrepresentation…distorting the truth…cynical…intimidatory…not acting in objective good faith…being gratuitous…derisive…grossly careless…dishonest…factual errors…misleading…lacking care…

    All used by courts to describe Bolt’s work.

    One day Rupert will cut him loose as he did with Glen Beck.

  4. Rhys Needham
    February 20th, 2014 at 21:25 | #4

    Aren’t a lot of Bolt’s Limited News colleagues former Maoists and Trotskyites themselves? Does that make them doubly culpable for the crimes of the former (and for defending those of the latter posthumously) and for those of the West and allied régimes?

  5. February 20th, 2014 at 21:38 | #5

    Has anyone ever seen Andrew Bolt and Myles Barlow in the same room?

  6. djm
    February 20th, 2014 at 21:41 | #6

    Why bother at all with Bolt? The man is paid to be annoying and seems to be narcissistic enough to enjoy even the most negative attention.

  7. George Montgomery
    February 20th, 2014 at 21:43 | #7

    The way that newspapers are going, Bolt, Australia’s worst investigative reporter, will be looking for a new job in a different field. Fox News’s man in S. E. Asia springs to mind.

  8. February 20th, 2014 at 22:03 | #8

    Isn’t Bolt a jingoistic monarchist?

  9. TerjeP
    February 20th, 2014 at 22:45 | #9

    Megan – Interesting you have such strong views about somebody you have never even listened to. Do you have magical powers?

    Personally I like Bolt but I have to agree with JQ on this point. The Iraq war had far too many Australian apologists including Bolt.

    But leaving that to one side it is great to know the Bolt report will be back on TV soon. The format is now extended to one hour. Bolt is a fantastic provocateur and very entertaining. I love his show.

    http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2014/02/ten-expands-the-bolt-report.html

  10. Ikonoclast
    February 20th, 2014 at 23:30 | #10

    JQ, I completely support your statements about Bolt. Bolt is indeed in exactly the same moral position as an unrepentant apologist for Stalinism or Maoism.

    I am pleased you made an implied distinction between Marxism and Stalinism / Maoism. It’s the type of distinction against wilful conflation that most capitalist apologists also need so that every capitalist apologist isn’t held morally accountable for Zyklon B.

  11. Megan
    February 20th, 2014 at 23:41 | #11

    @TerjeP

    You agree that Bolt was an apologist (I would say he was part of an essential enabling machine for) the Iraq war.

    That was an illegal war of aggression that ruined a country and left hundreds of thousands dead.

    You ‘personally like’ a guy who was an essential part of that machine.

    I find that nauseating.

  12. Ikonoclast
    February 20th, 2014 at 23:44 | #12

    @TerjeP

    So, you love Bolt as a “fantastic provocateur”.

    fantastic – fanciful, extravagant, absurd.

    Provocateur – a person who provokes trouble, causes dissension, or the like; agitator.

    I must say your decription of him is accurate; a fanciful, extravagant, absurd trouble maker.

  13. Megan
    February 21st, 2014 at 00:23 | #13

    @TerjeP

    Lately you have become uncharacteristically sloppy.

    eg:

    somebody you have never even listened to

    I have actually had the misfortune to hear Bolt, but I have never “clicked” on, or paid, Murdoch to do so.

    You “love” Bolt’s TV show & I consider him to be a clown and fascist propagandist. Each to their own.

  14. alfred venison
    February 21st, 2014 at 01:03 | #14

    Megan – ” I had never heard of him until the “Bolt-Watch” website came to my attention. ”

    so, you never watched “insiders”? congratulations! -a.v.

  15. Megan
    February 21st, 2014 at 01:16 | #15

    @alfred venison

    Only for a few minutes, once or twice, and only after I had already heard about him through “Bolt-Watch”.

    I gave that away very quickly – having dubbed the show “Barrie & Rupert & Friends”. Not the ABC at its best.

  16. Fran Barlow
    February 21st, 2014 at 05:00 | #16

    There simply is nothing at all to recommend paying attention to Bolt’s output to anyone who isn’t a political tragic or cultural reactionary. Using his output as a guide he betrays no attachment to or interest in ideas beyond a banal, ignorant and reactionary populism which in his case merely apes others in the same genre in talkback radio, or the intellectually equivalent sections of the US and British press.

    This is a man whose acumen in media is the equivalent of guessing that you may well sell a good many icy treats on a hot day at Bondi if you can set up a stand on Campbell Parade and who attracts custom by dressing up as an enormous gaudy icy pole.

    Putting aside his culturally reflexive embrace of ignorant populism, what sticks in my mind about him is his about face on the subject of poker machines. At one point, he apparently thought they were evil incarnate and ought to be banned but within perhaps minutes of finding someone keen to pay him to say the reverse — a chap by the name of Singleton — he discovered that in fact they were an expression of the robust freedom of the individual to choose his poison and those seeking in some way to discourage usage to be left wing harbingers of the nanny state. Clearly, populism can serve any cause.

  17. rog
    February 21st, 2014 at 06:00 | #17

    Speaking of blackened cooking utensils Tony Blair seems to have achieved the status of cracked pot.

    When it comes to issues like Iraq Blair, Bolt and other foot soldiers have one thing in common, loyalty to their employer Murdoch.

  18. Crocodile
    February 21st, 2014 at 06:32 | #18

    He’s actually quite funny when you take his views with the good ol’ grain of salt. His mate, the pompous toad Ackerman isn’t even funny.

  19. Peter Franklin
    February 21st, 2014 at 08:22 | #19

    The saying “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” seems appropriate.

  20. jungney
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:18 | #20

    The reactionaries are running scared which is they’re turning the volume knob on Bolt up. He’s effective at engaging the hate that passes for thought among the uninterested, bigoted and under educated. This man is a danger because he drowns out the possibility of reasoned public discussion on, say, the failures of communism and socialism; his volume stops people who know more than he does on the topic from expressing a view. A danger.

  21. Alex
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:28 | #21

    Has anyone let Bolt know that one of his ideological heroes, Keith Windschuttle, was a committed and active Maoist?

  22. may
    February 21st, 2014 at 12:11 | #22

    djm :Why bother at all with Bolt? The man is paid to be annoying and seems to be narcissistic enough to enjoy even the most negative attention.

    maybe the outfront “value” of these “commentators” could be that their malice and dismissal of basic human rights is on show loud and proud.

    claiming that they are victimised and deprived of their rights of free speech(offence is never given—only taken) they cannot deny that there are no human rights in the marketplace.

    and the more they show they can take it the more they claim the right to dish it out.
    sort of like and ever decreasing spiral ending up their own fundament?

    and anyway —how much has the neo-con adventure ended up costing (in money not blood)
    the public purse?

  23. Ootz
    February 21st, 2014 at 12:24 | #23

    Your name is quite apt Crocodile, since you mentioned salt and find people which have demonstrably blood on their hand “quite funny.”

  24. derrida derider
    February 21st, 2014 at 12:38 | #24

    @Megan , from his bosses POV – ie attracting eyeballs – Bolt is excellent value and is likely to have a long career. He gets provocative, well written and, as Crocodile notes, often witty copy in on time every day. Both the moral worth and (subject to legal issues) the veracity of Mr Bolt are just not his employer’s concern.

    If you have consistent concerns over a writer’s moral worth or veracity then the best way of dealing with that is – guess what – don’t read and don’t discuss him or her. THAT is what gets a publishers’ attention.

  25. derrida derider
    February 21st, 2014 at 12:40 | #25

    Oh, and a PS. Bolt is a uni dropout. Ya gotta think his animus against “academics” has some personal issues in there.

  26. Megan
    February 21st, 2014 at 12:51 | #26

    @derrida derider

    I disagree.

    I agree with, and advocate long and loud, the part about not reading – which extends to not linking – but I believe that discussing the reasons for that are an even better way to damage the publisher than silence.

  27. Ivor
    February 21st, 2014 at 16:18 | #27

    Alex :
    Has anyone let Bolt know that one of his ideological heroes, Keith Windschuttle, was a committed and active Maoist?

    And the evidence is…..?

  28. Phil
    February 21st, 2014 at 17:21 | #28

    @TerjeP
    based on his rating you must be just about the only person who watch him

  29. TerjeP
    February 21st, 2014 at 17:34 | #29

    You ‘personally like’ a guy who was an essential part of that machine.

    Yes. It is possible to disagree with a person and still like them. And it is possible to disagree strongly on one issue and agree on other issues. For instance I disagree with John Quiggin on lots of things but I agree with him on the Iraq war. Isn’t that amazing!?

  30. Geoff Andrews
    February 21st, 2014 at 17:36 | #30

    @desipis

    Scanned through your link but couldn’t find any reference to the fact that England had switched their war ships from coal powered to oil powered, thus giving them a huge advantage in the current arms race. It was a bit like the difference between conventional war ships and nuclear powered ships.

    Try:

  31. Megan
    February 21st, 2014 at 22:38 | #31

    @TerjeP

    Yes, of course it is a fact that even mass-murderers have people who like and admire them.

    Some people find that amazing.

    As I said, each to their own.

  32. rog
    February 22nd, 2014 at 04:49 | #32

    @Megan The thing with murderers is that for 99% of the time they are “likable”.

    Bolt is popular with those that identify with his personality.

  33. TerjeP
    February 22nd, 2014 at 06:52 | #33

    Megan – I don’t take seriously your suggestion that Bolt is a mass murderer. Poor policy does kill innocent people and wars especially so. And it’s bad to support bad policy. But I won’t equate every supporter of bad policy with mass murderers. That generally lack what lawyers call mens rea. The implementers of bad policy are a bit more culpable but even there it is dangerous to make a false equivalence.

    Do you feel the same way about Barak Obama who actually does hand out kill orders? Do you dislike him entirely? Do you refuse to watch any show he appears on? Is he worse than Murdoch and Bolt or just on par?

  34. TerjeP
    February 22nd, 2014 at 07:35 | #34

    Rog – it goes beyond personality. But I will admit there is an element that one might refer to as “chemistry” or charisma. A cynic might regard it as mere tribalism and whilst there is probably a sizeable element of that it isn’t simply that.

    I must admit though there are a lot of positions that Bolt supports that I don’t. And of course he is also capable of hypocrisy, sloppy thinking, flawed knowledge and bloated pride. His pre-election attacks on the Liberal Democrats (LDP), who are near and dear to my heart, had all these elements.

    Some specific policy issues where we differ in outlook:-

    Iraq war.
    Cannabis prohibition.
    Euthanasia.
    Same sex marriage.

    But even on these sort of issues where I disagree with Bolt I do generally admire the way he prosecutes his arguments. There is a certain sort of salesmanship at work. As an Australian commentator I feel that he is quite unique.

  35. Fran Barlow
    February 22nd, 2014 at 07:50 | #35

    @TerjeP

    But even on these sort of issues where I disagree with Bolt I do generally admire the way he prosecutes his arguments. There is a certain sort of salesmanship at work. As an Australian commentator I feel that he is quite unique.

    I can’t admire salesmanship when it serves the movement of shoddy or bogus goods. Many would call that unconscionable conduct or fraud. In public policy this can be called cant.

  36. Ikonoclast
    February 22nd, 2014 at 08:11 | #36

    @TerjeP

    “It is possible to disagree with a person and still like them.” – TerjeP.

    Yes, but such a person would have to pass a “general reasonableness” test. Such a person would have to be generally reasonable (open to being reasoned with), generally honest and generally arguing in good faith. Bolt does not pass this three-part test.

    If you like and admire someone (Bolt) who is “…inflammatory…selective misrepresentation…distorting the truth…cynical…intimidatory…not acting in objective good faith…being gratuitous…derisive…grossly careless…dishonest…factual errors…misleading…lacking care… ” this is rather concerning. Sometimes bad and dangerous people exert a kind of magnetism or charisma that draws weak and manipulable people in. It’s a well documented phenomenon. You seem to have fallen victim to this syndrome.

  37. February 22nd, 2014 at 08:30 | #37

    (faulty URLS removed)

    The Syrian people (and Venezuelans and most Ukranians) obviously understand the deadly criminality of the United States government and its allies, including Australia, in Iraq (as also attested by former US Attorney general Ramsey Clarke in speech embedded on my site). This has resulted in many hundreds of thousands deaths since 1990 (with one estimate putting the toll as high as 3.3 million).

    The Syrian people have heroically resisted attempts by the United States and its allies to impose similar regime change on them.

    Since March 2011, when hordes of foreign ‘Islamic’ terrorists, supplied by the United States and the Arab dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, launched their war against the Syrian people in March 2011, 130,000 Syrians have died. Australia, particularly former ‘Labor’ leaders Bob Carr and Kevin Rudd, has been complicit in these crimes against humanity with expanded sanctions imposed upon Syria and its ambassador expelled from Australia in 2012 on the provably untrue pretext that the Syrian Government massacred its own supporters in Houla in 2012.

    For more information, visit my site and sites linked to from there, including GlobalResearch. My site also includes two articles by Australian Professor Tim Anderson republished from Global Research.

  38. Julie Thomas
    February 22nd, 2014 at 09:04 | #38

    @TerjeP

    Yep it isn’t about personality it is about character and the way I was brought up was to understand that people who lie – call it what you like just being provocative for example – for profit and self-aggrandisement are not ‘good’ people; not the sort of person one should aim to be.

    What sort of ‘man’ were you raised to admire? Someone who makes a profit and gets ahead at any cost?

  39. John Quiggin
    February 22nd, 2014 at 09:50 | #39

    Ivor :

    Alex :
    Has anyone let Bolt know that one of his ideological heroes, Keith Windschuttle, was a committed and active Maoist?

    And the evidence is…..?

    Windschuttle was a prominent leftist in the 1970s, and wrote quite a good book on representations of unemployment in the media. He never really explained his shift to the right, but it was certainly a good career move for him. I’m not sure on Maoism, but this source might be useful

    http://www.gouldsbooks.com.au/ozleft/windschuttle.html

    I don’t think Bolt would be too concerned – many if not most of the intellectual shock troops of the right are ex-Marxists.

  40. Megan
    February 22nd, 2014 at 10:07 | #40

    @TerjeP

    Sloppy again.

    I didn’t suggest he is a mass murderer – as you well know.

    “mens rea” (from ‘Osborn’s) [literally - 'guilty mind'] An evil intention, or a knowledge of the wrongfulness of an act.

    Just like members of a criminal gang carrying out a horrific series of crimes may be judged to share guilt in proportions according to their role, so too with this particular crime. The polemicists and propagandists were an essential part. Bolt had ‘mens rea’.

    You acknowledge your tribalism but also throw in a pointless reference to Obama. But I’ll humuor you – yes, I feel exactly the same way about him. I dislike him entirely, and put him on a par with Bush, Blair, Howard, Murdoch & Bolt.

    But that is O/T here, to attempt to do a ‘bait and switch’ to derail the thread into a pointless partisan snowball-fight is a simplistic tactic.

  41. TerjeP
    February 22nd, 2014 at 11:31 | #41

    I didn’t suggest he is a mass murderer

    Very good then. Clearly I misunderstood you.

    And regarding Obama you get 10/10 for consistency. Well done.

  42. Ikonoclast
    February 22nd, 2014 at 11:36 | #42

    @John Quiggin

    All political movements, of all colours, attract opportunists. These are people who ultimately want to be on the winning side and to be big winners themselves. Personalities of the Windschuttle (and Bolt) type eventually realised that the reactionary status quo was going to last for the whole of their adult life. The real goodies and prizes were going to remain in that domain for a very long time. So, they went over to where the goodies and prizes were. They sold out for ill-gotten gain and fame. It’s a common story.

  43. Ikonoclast
    February 22nd, 2014 at 11:54 | #43

    @malthusista

    You are absolutely right about the deadly criminality of the US. However, you neglect to mention the deadly criminality of the current Russian and Chinese regimes. The real dilemma for the “little people” of this world is how to escape the deadly criminality of all the great powers and all the local dictators into the bargain.

    These days I tend to regard anyone wielding a weapon as a bad person and anyone running away (and trying to live away from places where weapons determine matters) as a good person.

  44. February 22nd, 2014 at 12:03 | #44

    Further to #37.

    Those who had watched Christopher Boyce being interviewed by Mark Davis in The Falcon Lands on SBS’s Lateline last Tuesday should not be surprised that Bob Car and Kevin Rudd were complicit in the 2011 invasion of Libya and in the ongoing terrorist war against Syria in which 130,000 have died.

    A brief summary of The Falcon Lands and discussion can be found in the article on SBS Dateline: Christopher Boyce blows whistle on CIA corruption of Australian democracy, Labor Party & trade union movement (18 Feb 2014). The link to the Iview page on which it can still be watched is on that page.

    Also (as comments are now closed on the last Monday Message Board of 3 February, can I say here) those who would like to help Anne-Lousie Lambert, who played Miranda in the 1975 Australian Classic film Picnic at Hanging Rock, save the set of that film from destruction by property developers, please attend the protest tommorrow beginning at 11 AM. There will be music all day. Details can be found on the story aty the top of my home page at candobetter.net.

  45. may
    February 22nd, 2014 at 12:47 | #45

    charm and sophistication—-oh yass.

    in with the in crowd.

    my peer group made me do it.

    but i thought they were only joking.

    i couldn’t say any thing because they might not like me.

    a low wage libertarian is some one who hasn’t been mugged by reality.

    yet.

  46. Ikonoclast
    February 22nd, 2014 at 14:42 | #46

    @may

    LOL.

    A living human being is someone who hasn’t been mugged by reality. Yet.

  47. February 22nd, 2014 at 22:16 | #47

    Slightly OT, but Tony Abbott appeared on my TV tonight, and asked me if I knew of any government programmes apart from the home insulation scheme that had actually killed people.

    Tony must have a short memory, The Iraq war comes to mind. The current asylum seeker policy too. But maybe it was just a rhetorical question.

  48. Patrickb
    February 22nd, 2014 at 22:20 | #48

    @derrida derider
    So the not watching is all going really well then? We’re seeing a lot of quality news content in MSN are we?

  49. Patrickb
    February 22nd, 2014 at 22:29 | #49

    @TerjeP
    “I do generally admire the way he prosecutes his arguments. There is a certain sort of salesmanship at work. As an Australian commentator I feel that he is quite unique.”

    Extraordinary that someone would declare this in public. Bolt’s rhetoric is base and there very little substantive difference between him and Ackerman, Blair et al. To try and place Bolt at the pinnacle of a right wing commentariate hierarchy stretches the bounds of credibility past reasonable limits. There is no hierarchy, merely a cesspool.

  50. Megan
    February 22nd, 2014 at 23:10 | #50

    I just heard a statement along the lines: “Most fascists are ‘good’ people”.

    Which leads to a formula:

    There are two broad categories of fascist: smart/intelligent/informed + fascist = not ‘good’

    &

    ‘good’ + fascist = stupid/gullible/uninformed.

    This makes a lot of sense when broken down. You can be ‘good’ and a fascist, but you must also be stupid. You can be smart and a fascist, but in that case you must be evil.

  51. Sancho
    February 22nd, 2014 at 23:19 | #51

    I refudiate the comparison of Bolt with Glenn Beck. Beck is a parodist who inhabits his role far more deeply than contemporaries like Stephen Colbert.

    I’m not even joking. Beck’s true politics are likely disinterested or even left-leaning, but as an entertainer he knows his audience perfectly.

  52. Megan
    February 23rd, 2014 at 00:01 | #52

    @Sancho

    OK, and in that light how do you describe Bolt?

  53. February 23rd, 2014 at 00:23 | #53

    Iconoclast @#43 wrote:

    You are absolutely right (@#37) about the deadly criminality of the US.

    Thank you.

    Iconoclast continued:

    However, you neglect to mention the deadly criminality of the current Russian and Chinese regimes.

    Could you provide examples of the criminality of the Russian and Chinese Governments?

    Were you aware that the Russian Government, including President Vladimir Putin, was democratically elected? Were you aware that Russia has a free press that is far more truthful than the war propagandists and corruption denialists in the Fairfax media, the ABC, the SBS, the Murdoch Press?

    For some time now, it has been understood by people, who are put themselves to the trouble of discovering the truth, that if you want to know, let alone understand, what is going on in Venezuela, Syria, the Ukraine, Bahrain, etc., that you are wasting your time watching CBS, the BBC, etc. To find out what is happening there, go to sites such as “Russia Today” (rt.com) and the Iranian PressTV (presstv.ir) etc.

    If you can find examples of dishonest reporting on any of those web-sites, please feel welcome to provide examples here or on my web-site.

    Iconoclast wrote:

    These days I tend to regard anyone wielding a weapon as a bad person …

    Can’t you see that it had not been for some “bad persons” “wielding weapons” Syria would have been leveled by the United States and its allies last year with a death toll approaching that suffered by Iraq and its people would now be living under Sharia law?

  54. Fran Barlow
    February 23rd, 2014 at 06:20 | #54

    Megan

    1. There are no good f@scists. Actual f@scists are extremely dangerous incipiently or actually murderous political criminals who aim through violence (actual or apprehended) to enforce rigid conformity to the bosses’ state.

    2. Your use of the term describes reactionaries, ignorant dupes and spivs. Such folk are antithetical to progress, but the dupes may be acquitted of mens rea.

    I hate it when the term conflates would be perpetrators of genocide or democide on behalf of boss class rule with folks merely pitching/fostering a reversion to a more unequal and disempowering set of social arrangements.

  55. Ikonoclast
    February 23rd, 2014 at 08:38 | #55

    @malthusista

    Oh come on, look at the Realpolitiks! Are you saying, Russian oppression doesn’t happen in Checnya? Chinese oppression doesn’t happen in Tibet? Russia is ruled by Chekists and oligarchs. China is ruled by one authoritarian party and its crony capitalists. And of course the US is run by the plutocrats, the military industrial complex and the secret services. The “democracies” of the US and Russia are false covers.

    The interesting phenomenon is the degree of convergence (towards plutocratic dictatorship) displayed by all three superpowers as late stage capitalism goes global. This, with the manipulation of “truth”, shows that Orwell’s “1984″ was the most prescient of dystopian novels. Three Regional Hegemons To Rule Them All.

    Radical pacifism can work. It has been shown to work by Gandhi and others. It can also fail. Pacifists can die just like combatants. There are also situations where both resistance and compliance are futile. On the other hand, meeting violence with violence (on a mass scale) is guaranteed to escalate the situation and result in ever more deaths. It is arguable that the women, children and old men show the most wisdom, by fleeing. The young male hot-heads who remain to fight, what will they win in Syria? Nothing but ruins.

  56. February 23rd, 2014 at 14:48 | #56

    Pr Q @ #39 said:

    [Windschuttle] never really explained his shift to the right, but it was certainly a good career move for him….I don’t think Bolt would be too concerned – many if not most of the intellectual shock troops of the right are ex-Marxists.

    Most prominent Right-liberals (Bolt, Blair, Ackerman, Windschuttle) are usually former Left-liberals who had a bad reaction after being exposed to near lethal doses of Left-liberal ideological radiation at university during the seventies, the high tide of “idiot Leftism”. Their Right-liberalism is a form of apostasy against former comrades a gauche.If you want an explanation of why any middle-aged man might espouse some breath-taking bit of reactionary ideology it is usually sufficient to say he attended an Australian eastern seaboard university sometime between 1975-90. Left-liberals were ascendant then (they are established now) and were happy to celebrate a collapse in standards, not just intellectually but also morally as they moved from barricades to common rooms. The Right-wing lurch had an objective aspect of course: trade unions did over-step the mark (the BLF was a criminal conspiracy), commies were a threat (SS 20′s were pointed at Europe) and crime was out of control (Underbelly is now a TV franchise). After 1990 there was no point of comparison, the End of History you might say. It was post-modern liberalism (whether discoursing on deconstruction or trading in derivatives) as far as the eye could see.I dont know if Windschuttle’s lurch to the Right was such a “good career move”. He is a historian by trade and the unfashionable positions he now espouses certainly cost him any hopes of a tenured position. However any former Left-wing journalist who wanted to settle old scores with former comrades was sure to get a good hearing, and a healthy pay-check, if he hung his shingle out of News Corp shop front.The central problem with Australian Right-wingers is they do not espouse an “organic” form of conservatism that has evolved as a dialectic between their own political education and the traditional culture of their own country. Their so-called “conservatism” is not conservative – it is liberalism with a corporate face, Nor is it home-grown, it is usually imported from foreign think-tanks. (Of course much the same can be said of Australian Left-wingers who take their ideological cues from LSE, Sorbonne and Berkeley.) To make matters infinitely worse, the tradition of modernist liberalism has over the past generation undergone a massive mutation into the fashion of post-modernist liberalism. So Right-wingers now espouse a form of liberalism that has lost most of its creative potential, its basically apologetics for legal eagle tax-shelters and  pixel-shuffling financial innovators.In fact the Australian media-academia complex cannot boast one single conservative – not a one! Every single last one of them, to a man, strives to be a “with-it” liberal, either a Left-liberal (usually in academia) or a Right-liberal (usually in the media).  So far as I can see the only prominent Australian who espouses a conservative view of things is Barrie Humphries, who is, not surprisingly, self-employed. Perhaps you could throw John Carroll and Bettina Arndt in there with him. There used to be the occasional home-grown conservative poet or philosopher (David Stove, Les Murray, Vincent Buckley) but they have long since been weeded out.It makes for a terribly boring public intellectual life since both Right- and Left-liberal elites tend to agree on most things, usually the very things that members of the general public may have serious reservations over. Also the decline of traditional conservatism tends to be associated with an increase in vulgarity, boorishness and ignorance as a badge of honour. Conservatives tend to be a little better educated in the finer things of life. After all, thats the whole point of conservatism, to conserve worthwhile traditions which, once upon a time, the Occident had more of than you could poke a stick at. Nowadays of course no body bothers trying to master a difficult art because its too much like hard work.

    Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

    Robert Conquest First Law of Politics

  57. February 23rd, 2014 at 15:19 | #57

    Pr Q @ #39 said:

    [Windschuttle] never really explained his shift to the right, but it was certainly a good career move for him….I don’t think Bolt would be too concerned – many if not most of the intellectual shock troops of the right are ex-Marxists.

    Most prominent Right-liberals (Bolt, Blair, Ackerman, Windschuttle) are usually former Left-liberals who had a bad reaction after being exposed to near lethal doses of Left-liberal ideological radiation at university during the seventies, the high tide of “idiot Leftism”. Their Right-liberalism is a form of apostasy against former comrades a gauche.

    If you want an explanation of why any middle-aged man might espouse some breath-taking bit of reactionary ideology it is usually sufficient to say he attended an Australian eastern seaboard university sometime between 1975-90. Left-liberals were ascendant then (they are established now) and were happy to celebrate a collapse in standards, not just intellectually but also morally as they made the long march from barricades to common rooms. The Right-wing lurch had an objective aspect of course: trade unions did over-step the mark (the BLF was a criminal conspiracy), commies were a threat (SS 20′s were pointed at Europe) and crime was out of control (Underbelly is now a TV franchise).

    After 1990 there was no point of comparison, the End of History you might say. It was post-modern liberalism (whether discoursing on deconstruction or trading in derivatives) as far as the eye could see.

    I dont know if Windschuttle’s lurch to the Right was such a “good career move”. He is a historian by trade and the unfashionable positions he now espouses certainly cost him any hopes of a tenured position. However any former Left-wing journalist who wanted to settle old scores with former comrades was sure to get a good hearing, and a healthy pay-check, if he hung his shingle out of News Corp shop front.

    The core problem with Australian Right-wingers is they do not espouse an “organic” form of conservatism that has evolved as a dialectic between their own political education and the traditional culture of their own country. Their so-called “conservatism” is not conservative – it is liberalism with a corporate face, Nor is it home-grown, it is usually imported from foreign think-tanks. (Of course much the same can be said of Australian Left-wingers who take their ideological cues from LSE, Sorbonne and Berkeley.) To make matters infinitely worse, the tradition of modernist liberalism has over the past generation undergone a massive mutation into the fashion of post-modernist liberalism. So Right-wingers now espouse a form of liberalism that has lost most of its creative potential, its basically apologetics for legal eagle tax-shelters and  pixel-shuffling financial innovators.

    In fact the Australian media-academia complex cannot boast one single conservative – not a one! Every single last one of them, to a man, strives to be a “with-it” liberal, either a Left-liberal (usually in academia) or a Right-liberal (usually in the media). So far as I can see the only prominent Australian who espouses a conservative view of things is Barrie Humphries, who is, not surprisingly, self-employed. There used to be the occasional home-grown conservative poet or philosopher (David Stove, Les Murray, Vincent Buckley) but they have long since been weeded out.

    It makes for a terribly boring public intellectual life since both Right- and Left-liberal elites tend to agree on most things, usually the very things that members of the general public may have serious reservations over. Also the decline of traditional conservatism tends to be associated with an increase in vulgarity, boorishness and ignorance as a badge of honour. Conservatives tend to be a little better educated in the finer things of life. After all, thats the whole point of conservatism, to conserve worthwhile traditions which, once upon a time, the Occident had more of than you could poke a stick at. Nowadays of course no body bothers trying to master a difficult art because its too much like hard work.

    Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

    Robert Conquest First Law of Politics

  58. alfred venison
    February 23rd, 2014 at 15:54 | #58

    i saw keith windshuttle deliver an oration.

    it was at the sydney university history common room, around the time the “the killing of history” was published, it was one of a series of evenings for post grads to hear about topics outside their fields of interest from people in the “real world”.

    he began his talk by denouncing the sydney university history department as being in the thrall of post modernism, lacan & nietzsche and therefore incipient fascists. really. if you have read “the killing of history” you would know that it is one dogmatic step for him from nietzsche to hitler to stalin to crimes against humanity.

    he seemed genuinely surprised that he was not received warmly, and, instead, was asked numerous hostile & critical questions from students & academics around the room.

    i don’t think he was a good historian at all, that he didn’t apply for a tenured position was not due to a conspiracy against him, or an incompatibility with the then prevailing fashion for postmodernism, but simply because he was just smart enough to realise he’s an intellectual simpleton. -a.v.

  59. Jungney
    February 23rd, 2014 at 16:48 | #59

    @jack strocchi

    I was at least entertained up until your claim that the BLF was a criminal conspiracy. Now, which BLF would that be: the NSW BL’s or the Victorian Branch under so called Maoists or some figment of your fermented memory?

    Well said a.v.

  60. February 23rd, 2014 at 17:18 | #60

    alfred venison @ #8 said:

    he seemed genuinely surprised that he was not received warmly, and, instead, was asked numerous hostile and critical questions from students and academics around the room. i dont think he was a good historian at all, that he didnt apply for a tenured position was not due to a conspiracy against him, or an incompatibility with the then prevailing fashion for postmodernism, but simply because he was just smart enough to realise hes an intellectual simpleton.

    His surprise surprises me. When you make yourself a cat among pigeons you should expect to see feathers ruffled.

    Windschuttle’s scholarly work, what ever one thinks of his politics, at least has the virtue of being readable and germane to the burning issues of the day. Plus he forced Reynolds to back down on the Aboriginal genocide claim which was a good job of work certainly worthy of a chair.
    The same cannot be said for most of his professional peers at the UoS and elsewhere who are either still in the grip of post-modernist ideology or have relapsed into more or less mindless fact-grubbing on issues of limited interest. I never studied History at the UoS or even heard of a UoS historian, despite living and/or working next door to it for a decade. This page showing the current academic establishment of this department does not exactly leap with household names. Perhaps Windschuttle’s strictures hit too close to the bone for comfort?
    Since the late sixties the University of Sydney has had what one might call a chequered past when it comes to employing intellectuals who deviate from the Left-wing party line. Both Dr Knopfelmacher and David Stove were hounded out of positions there on trumped up charges. Key departments (Philosophy and Economics) were riven by ideological splits. Without going into the merits of these disputes this strife-ridden record surely supports a claim for having an intellectually diverse faculty. But obviously this was a bridge too far for Australian historians.
    Thus Windschuttle is more or less self-employed. A loss to himself obviously but also to his peers who could use a little bit of ginger in the otherwise tepid gruel they serve up to HECS-burdened students.
    More generally this points to the problem of Australian public intellectual life: fashion-driven, cliquish and detached from every-day life. The very best Australian intellectuals (Barry Humphries, Germaine Greer, Geoffrey Blainey, Robert Hughes, Clive James, Nick Cave) tend to be somewhat idiosyncratic one-man shows, usually set-up over-seas. Which means that high-profile institutional forums back home are often at the mercy of energetic charlatans with axes to grind, like Andrew Bolt. Or dreary bores with bulging Rolodexes, like Michelle Grattan.
    The Australian public are dying for an intellectual adrenaline hit but they aint going to get it from Australian public intellectuals.

  61. Megan
    February 23rd, 2014 at 18:49 | #61

    @Fran Barlow

    Of course they aren’t good. Hence the expression ‘good’.

    There are many definitions of fascism and I understand your point but I use the term deliberately and not lightly. I believe it – at least arguably – applies to our current situation.

    And I believe it is extremely important to include the supporters, enablers, proponents and actual actors in the classification. Otherwise they are let off the hook of responsibility for what they are doing.

  62. alfred venison
    February 23rd, 2014 at 19:02 | #62

    andrew bolt is the charles maurras of our time. -a.v.

  63. alfred venison
    February 23rd, 2014 at 19:43 | #63

    Jack Strocchi – careful when you say “still” – i do know my history. when i was there, as undergrad, honours, post-grad & tutor, the postmodernists were a faction. from 1988 to 1996 i was taught by seven faculty – one of the sorbonne – who were left wing & decidedly pre-postmodernist, which reasons are why i sought them out. they were there when windshuttle gave his talk, side by side with the postmodernists, all gave him the hard time he deserved. in the period since they have each retired; none of them could ever be called “still” postmodernist & none of them “relapsed”. the postmodern transformation set in after.

    windshuttle was never a peer.

    i find him as a writer not readable, rather irritating because he is a poor historian, shallow, and transparently ideologically driven – he is an intellectual puff pastry – he is a manufactured celebrity.

    there is a place for political economy.

    ” I never studied History at the UoS or even heard of a UoS historian, despite living and/or working next door to it for a decade ” – what in the world is that supposed to mean? -a.v.

  64. Jungney
    February 23rd, 2014 at 20:15 | #64

    @jack strocchi
    Citing Windschuttle as an Australian expert on genocide is ceding far too much intellectual integrity and knowledge to him. Prof Colin Tatz, who is an expert on genocide, points out that there most certainly was an Aboriginal genocide, according to the only authoritative definition that we have of genocide, that of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948.

    See: http://www.kooriweb.org/gst/genocide/tatz.html

    I know arguing from authority is regarded as bad form, but to argue the actual form in which genocide happened in Australia is beyond this forum. However, I’ll happily argue the point with you if we use Tatz’s arguments as a starting point.

    a.v.:

    ” I never studied History at the UoS or even heard of a UoS historian, despite living and/or working next door to it for a decade ” – what in the world is that supposed to mean? -a.v.

    I think it means that, like a Manichee, he has not studied history and therefore has not eaten of the stuff of evil and is therefore uncontaminated.

  65. sunshine
    February 23rd, 2014 at 21:15 | #65

    Is Bolt morally responsible for all the crimes committed by multinational mega companies , free market extremists ,and, the governments beholden to them?

    It’s giving him the benefit of doubt ,and he never does that for others ,but I think its worth assuming his opinions are genuinely held ; ie; that he is not simply a liar . It may be possible for an intelligent person to be so consistently wrong by selecting evidence etc (as we all do ). Much decision making is not as rational as we would like to think. The worst I would say about him is that he may feel that the ends justifies the means -that would make him pretty much of a liar then. I dont think he deliberately sets out to cause misery ,I think he is probably guided by some idea of progress for human kind in the long run (like Hitler was). Just writing him off as a misguided idiot or self-conscious liar (tho he could be either) might be missing an opportunity to develop understanding of our human nature.

    I think thats a pretty generous appraisal and Im conscious of the fact that he is not a generous chap himself, part of me just wants to slap him across the back of the head.

  66. Sancho
    February 23rd, 2014 at 21:42 | #66

    @Megan

    Beck is sensational, not vicious. When he rails against the evils of the Left, it’s in the tone of a ringmaster describing the unspeakable abominations to be seen at the freak show, guaranteed to amaze and appall – when everyone knows he’s only got a three-legged dog and a woman with gout.

    The entertainment is in the delivery; watching someone cleverly and grandly overstate the mundane in order to make it enticing. It pulls in the rubes, sure enough, but the real performance is for the audience that enjoys the showmanship for its own sake.

    Andrew Bolt is altogether different. There is no layer of self-awareness, let alone self-mockery in what he produces. Bolt despises the Left and anyone who so much as questions Tory ideals, and would gladly destroy them if he could.

    Beck, of course, would never harm the source of his livelihood, and it’s conspicuous that the greatest damage he’s done is to the public image of the American Right.

  67. February 24th, 2014 at 00:13 | #67

    I note that ikonoclast’s latest post (@#5) addresses almost none of the content of my latest post (@#3)

    Ikonoklast, if you would prefer that I continue in this discussion with you, you should address my arguments and supporting evidence. Why not start with what I wrote in #44 on page 1? Either show me why I am wrong or else acknowledge that what I have posted is correct.

    Ikonoklast wrote:

    Are you saying, Russian oppression doesn’t happen in Chechnya?

    You realise that the Boston marathon bombers were Chechen terrorists and that the FBI failed to act on warnings given to them by Russian intelligence that Chechen terrorists preparing to bomb the Boston Marathon? Anyway, feel most welcome to explain how you know that justice lies with the cause of such terrorists and not with the Russians and their regional allies in the Caucasus.

    Ikonoklast wrote:

    Russia is ruled by Chekists and oligarchs.

    As I explained above President Vladimir Putin was democratically elected. He was elected with a far higher margin than war criminal Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush.

    Ikonoklast wrote:

    On the other hand, meeting violence with violence (on a mass scale) is guaranteed to escalate the situation and result in ever more deaths. The young male hot-heads who remain to fight [in Syria will win] nothing but ruins.

    Presumably, you would also have objected to the violence with which the young Australian ‘hot-heads’ on the Kokoda Track and at Milne Bay met the violence of the Japanese invaders in 1942? If you took the time to look at the facts about Syria, you would know that Syrian soldiers are no less defending their country against invasion by a cruel and viscious enemy than were Australians in New Guinea in 1942.

  68. Ootz
    February 24th, 2014 at 00:24 | #68

    Excuse moi mosieur venison, Windshuttle a “poor historian”, give me a break!

    He crudely morphed historical debunking into a process of forensic proof-reading for ad hominem attacks. Windschuttle’s own writings is exemplar, as he himself has embarrassingly found out, how easy it is to make mistakes.

    Relevant history is about a spectrum of evidence backed up with primary sources. Windschuttle never offered any substantive research to support his own allegations. But plenty of

    “Most colonists were Christians to whom such actions (indiscriminant frontier murders) would have been abhorrent”.

    Windschuttle, The Historian as Prophet and Redeemer, Quadrant, December 2002:9-10)

    “British colonies were civilised societies governed by both morality and laws that forbade the killing of the innocent”

    Windschuttle, The Myths of Frontier Massacres in Australian History Part II: The Fabrication of the Aboriginal Death Toll, Quadrant 44, (2000):23

    Anyone who is still adhering to Windschuttle’s marshmallow view of European settlement in Australia must have somehow missed the road train of evidence in primary sources.

    During the 1880′s Queensland’s annexation of eastern New Guinea was nullified by the British Imperial Government, based on the colony’s treatment of the native population. In particular it was noticed, that when the Torres Straight Islands were annexed, the first act of the Queensland Government was to advertise the islands for sale at five shillings an acre, in total disregard that these were the homes and property of a sizable indigenous population. According to ‘The Times’ 15 May 1883

    While there might be exaggeration in many of the stories of atrocity in Queensland it was impossible to converse with any average colonist, to read the local newspapers, to listen to speeches in parliament without perceiving that the native was ‘regarded as simply an encumbrance on the soil’, as being destitute of rights and existing ‘only on sufferance, for which he should be grateful’.To allow Queensland to gain control of New Guinea would ‘incur grave moral guilt’.

    There is a paper trail that links Queensland first Governor R G W Herbert, as a (silent) partner, with that scoundrel Dalryple in ‘claiming’ the land that then became Valley of the Lagoons station in the upper Herbert, upon where a massacre was committed. Another paper trail shows Queensland commissioning a paramilitary force (Native Mounted Police) and armament of 1000 snider repeater rifles and 500 000 rounds of amunition.

    Windschuttle is the Fools Gold of Australian history!

  69. alfred venison
    February 24th, 2014 at 07:29 | #69

    i do have a gripe with henry reynolds (and marilyn lake) for producing a scholarly history study -”drawing the global colour line” – without a bibliography. i don’t know if that was the authors or publisher that did that but a bibliography is bog standard scholarly apparatus. so wtf? do they expect the reader to piece together the texts and papers they relied on to make their case from their footnotes? no way – i don’t do their work for them – i was so annoyed i stopped reading and sent it back to the library, thanks for the loan. after the copious and well organised bibliographies in “beyond the frontier” &c this was a very great disappointment. -a.v.

  70. J-D
    February 24th, 2014 at 09:23 | #70

    @malthusista
    When you make claims about how free the press is (or isn’t) or how democratic elections are (or aren’t) in this country or that, I assume you aren’t expecting that your word alone is sufficient reason for people to accept the truth of what you assert.

    I know of a few sources that claim to assess different countries for things like democratic freedoms and freedom of the press, but I know those sources may be flawed and I’m not making any claims here on the basis of what they say.

    What are the sources that you rely on as integritous and reliable bases for claims like the ones you’re making?

  71. Ivor
    February 24th, 2014 at 10:36 | #71

    What is strocchi’s problem?

    If academics claim “that women are ‘on the whole’ intellectually inferior to men,” then they may well be rebuffed within modern universities who need to protect society from rightwing ideological falsehoods.

    Members of Science Faculties trying to teach students the theory of ‘philostogen’ would be equivalents, as would medical lecturers teaching blood-letting and miasma theory.

    When they found themselves on the street, would they really expect sympathy for having been hounded out on trumped-up charges?

    Would you not be hounded from the Moore Theological College if you wanted to teach the religious benefits and closeness to God of underage sex?

    So would strocchi rise again in mock defence?

  72. rog
    February 24th, 2014 at 12:08 | #72

    Indeed writers such as Robert Conquest and Alexander Solzhenitsyn produced carefully detailed accounts of the bizarre world of USSR, a world of denial that was out of touch with reality. And as JQ has noted, Bolt is equally as out of touch with reality as the USSR.

  73. Paul Norton
    February 24th, 2014 at 13:08 | #73

    I’m somewhat surprised that we can have a Piles Of Skulls thread with predominantly Australian participants that hasn’t mentioned the Indonesian massacres of 1965-67, the Indonesian invasion and occupation of 1975-99, and the stances of prominent Australians regarding those events. As someone who was too young to even know about the 1965-67 massacres at the time, but who opposed the invasion and occupation of East Timor from day one until it ended, I consider myself to be much less morally compromised than a lot of people, including several successive Australian Prime Ministers who are (rightly) praised for their enlightened stances on many other issues.

  74. may
    February 24th, 2014 at 13:19 | #74

    Ikonoclast :@may
    LOL.
    A living human being is someone who hasn’t been mugged by reality. Yet.

    yair, yair.
    you are allowed to live before you die.

  75. Paul Norton
    February 24th, 2014 at 13:59 | #75

    the Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor in1975-99

  76. Paul Norton
    February 24th, 2014 at 14:09 | #76

    Bettina Arndt, who Jack Strocchi mentions, was a leftist, feminist, and working mother with an uninterrupted career path who, upon reaching her mid-40s, underwent the sort of mid-life ideological conversion that has since seen her exhorting women under 45 to “do as I say, not as I did”.

  77. Paul Norton
    February 24th, 2014 at 14:45 | #77

    Further to JQ’s link at @39, the late Bob Gould was a Trotskyist, as was Hall Greenland in the 1960s and 1970s, and the fact that Keith Windschuttle was their close personal friend and close political associate at the time is rather suggestive about his own political convictions. I don’t know that there is any evidence that Windschuttle ever found anything to like about Maoism.

  78. Fran Barlow
    February 24th, 2014 at 16:10 | #78

    @Paul Norton

    Well a Grantite anyway … :-)

    Your general reasoning is sound however. There’s no way Gould and Windschuttle would have got along if the latter had been a Maoist. Both of them were populists of the Labor stripe i.e workerists), and Windschuttle argued this position in a famous exchange with Alan Ashbolt around 1980. It was very tedious.

    But nothing he wrote suggested a sympathy for Maoism or Stalinism more generally.

  79. Will
    February 24th, 2014 at 18:29 | #79

    What century do these people live in to be running around arms flailing in the air ranting about Communism/Marxism/Socialism/Maoism/Stalinism/other-ism? Newsflash – everyone knows by now that autocratic regimes are generally nasty places in which to live. Smearing the modern left with wild-eyed harangues about Stalin makes as much sense as accusing conservatives of running gas chambers. Quit with the poop-flinging alarmism.

  80. dave
    February 27th, 2014 at 19:59 | #80

    Who is this Bolt person? Sounds like a puppet for the elites.

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