What if they gave a culture war and nobody came?

It’s now looking just about as certain as any electoral outcome can be that the Howard government will be defeated, and that the Federal Liberal party will join its state and territory counterparts in opposition, possibly for several terms to come[1]. Given that the economy is doing well, and that the Australian electorate is not obviously in a state of leftwing ferment, this (still putative) outcome needs some explanation.

One striking fact, despite having received an overwhelming mandate in 1996 for a policy of making Australia “relaxed and comfortable”, the Howard government, and, even more, their supporters, see themselves as being engaged in a “culture war”. An even more striking fact is that the other side in this culture war has been just about invisible, particularly in political debate. It’s hard to see either Kevin Rudd or his smooth and scrubbed counterparts at the state level as engaged in a struggle to undermine traditional Australian culture. Even the Greens, led by Bob Brown, don’t fit the bill. And this is consistent with my day-to-day experience. Maybe UQ is riddled with extreme cultural leftists, but if so, I don’t get invited to their parties.

Yet opinion columns, talk radio and the rightwing blogosphere are dominated by diatribes against what appears, in their telling, as an amorphous mass of political correctness, environmentalism, radical feminism and general hostility to ordinary Australians and their values, which supposedly dominates not only the Labor party but all of our major cultural institutions including universities, the legal system, the ABC and even, in many accounts, the commercial mass media in which these bloviators are writing.

The pursuit of the culture war is, in my judgement, one of the main reasons that the conservative parties have become increasingly unelectable.

There are three main reasons for this. First, unlike the US, there is no core constituency for this kind of thing. Although some lefties get worried about the religious right, it’s pretty much non-existent here. The churches as a whole are moderately leftwing on most issues. That includes socially conservative Christians like Family First, who are typically centre-left on most economic issues. Even Hillsong, often see as the aspirational class at prayer, has backed Labor’s call to increase foreign aid. The other potential constituency, successfully mobilised by Pauline Hanson, to whom slogans like “political correctness” appeal, consists mainly of people who are generically unhappy about changes of all kinds, amounting to maybe 15 per cent of the population. That’s enough to provide the talkback shock jocks and their print and net equivalents with an audience, but not the basis of long-term success in politics, especially as much of this group is disengaged from politics much of the time

Second, the vitriolic style associated with the culture wars turns most Australians off. It’s striking given all the talk of looking for a “right-wing Phillip Adams” that hardly anyone on the right tries to emulate Adams’ avuncular style.

Third, and most importantly, the factoid-based, point-scoring, style of argument that goes with the culture wars eventually leads to complete insulation from factual reality. Any proposition, no matter how ridiculous, can be defended in this way, long after the average person has seen through it. This has been most obvious in relation to climate change and Iraq, but there are a whole string of issues where the culture warriors have imprisoned themselves in an orthodoxy every bit as constricting as the largely imaginary monolithic leftism they are supposed to be confronting.

Looking at the commentators who generally support the Coalition, the great majority (virtually everyone at the Oz, Devine pere et fille, Bolt, Akerman, McGuinness, Pearson, the IPA and much of the CIS) are self-proclaimed culture warriors and climate change delusionists, and most of the rest are carried along by this tide. The only pro-government commentators I can think of who are largely free of this kind of thing are Andrew Norton and Harry Clarke (no doubt there are some others – feel free to point them out). As long as the Liberal party gets its intellectual firepower from such sources, it will struggle to connect with Australians in general.

Note: A bunch of other people, including Mark Bahnisch, Guy Rundle (may be paywalled) and Andrew Norton (can’t find it now, but I’m sure I read it) have written useful stuff on this. And Chris Berg of the IPA has a good debunking of fears about the religious right.

80 thoughts on “What if they gave a culture war and nobody came?

  1. Good post, John.

    I don’t think anyone outside a cabal of right wing pundits and their cheer squad has cared about the culture wars since Keating. Look at Quadrant’s subscriber base. I can’t see that continuing to carry on like porkchops if Labor are elected will do the conservatives any good at all. If the Libs want the chance of an early return to power, they’d do far better to return to the centre.

    It’s interesting to consider the case of the British Tories – who squandered years on the opposition benches through reciting right wing mantras from which the electorate had long moved on. It’s not as though the Blair government would not have been vulnerable after the first few years – Blair certainly thought so in his first term.

    It took close to a decade for the Tories to discard this losing strategy.

    The other local example is the contribution of religious crazies in NSW to the Iemma win. Iemma should have been the state premier who was most vulnerable to a loss in the recent round of state campaigns.

  2. When you, Prof Q, begin to list those individuals and institutions which are targets in the culture wars, run by the Howard government and its minions, it is no wonder that there are so many people who have been motivated to try and rid the country of them as leaders.

    The negative ads about unionists whilst trying to woo a range of marginal voters fails to recognise that unionists are mothers of school children, carers of the disabled, volunteers at the netball on a Saturday etc.

    So while you can try and buy a vote it won’t work if at the same time you are telling a person that they are no good because they are a unionist.

    One of the major problems with the attack on unions is that those who are depicted as thugs are seen as blokes operating in a hard industry who are only reacting to the bullying of the bosses – the rest of the union movement are teachers, nurses, policemen who are doing their best.

    Everyone knows that there will be individuals who are bad eggs but why should we be harder on the little people and make them representatives of their occupational group, than people like Mr Pratt who has ripped us all off and yet has had a nod and a wink from the PM because he has money which he donates to the Liberal party?

  3. With Quadrant an article starts with a superior sneer at some cultural opponent, then gives a false and tendentious representation of the opponents views, and follows up with a bashing of the straw men so created. This is the pattern. This made it unreadable to me. A pity, I, for one, certainly don’t need to only listen to voices reflecting my own views. But I am not going to waste time on what is little more than ranting, invariably about attacking someone usually clearly their moral and intellectual superior ( Rachel Carson, Al Gore et al). Like those Japanese soldiers, left over from forgotten wars I prefer to let them fight on alone in the cultural jungles of their minds.

  4. I seem to remember that feminism died in the arse long before Howard, so it was always a bit bemusing to hear it being railed against. Another case in point is the arch dumbarse Julie Bishop talking about Maoists in the schools! Ai Ya!
    It is also highly amusing that people have the same level of interest in the non black-armband of history than they did in the black armband version – That is, none at all.

  5. Looking at the latest piece of electoral hate mail to enter my letter box, I can add two other reasons, mainly applicable to younger people:
    (1) Many of the things they are targetting are basically meaningless abstract concepts to people under a certain age, like unions and state government debt.
    (2) The big campaign against climate change and the more recent Peter Garrett hating campaign is a sure loser. My feeling is that the vast majority of younger people think more should be done and not less — probably much more — and its a very important issue to them. That goes across political spectrum under a certain age.

  6. John, I admire you greatly but you really need to get out more 🙂 95% of the electorate would have no idea about “Culture Wars” and absolutely no interest in finding out. I’m quite convinced that the Oz remains afloat largely because of Larva Prodders obsessively accessing it to be repetitively outraged at the Op Ed content 🙂

    The Coalition is deservedly on the way out because it’s old, tired, creaky and long past its “used by” date. Rudd’s most compelling “new idea” is Rudd. And its working a treat.

    I don’t know for certain but I’m guessing that the
    worst thing about all this for John Howard is that he’ll lose government, not because of some down to the wire, hard fought ideological contest, but because people are just, sort of, over him. In droves.

  7. I’m not sure if my understanding of the term “culture wars” matches the standard or received definition if there is one. My initial position would be (perhaps somewhat pedantically) that while there are humans there will be cultures and while there are cultures there will be wars; both hot wars and culture wars. Every strand of discourse is a strand in the culture wars. I think the culture wars have gone on since humans evolved and will do so until humans cease.

    The main culture war in the last 200 years or so has been Capitalism versus everbody, every ‘ism’ and every thing else. And to put it bluntly, Capitalism has won hands down and swept all else from the field. OK, OK there’s still a bit of residual sweeping going on but it’s basically all over on that front.

    This does not mean however that history is over. We are about to find out that endless-growth Capitalism’s inherent contradiction is not to be diagnosed by any historicist dialectic but by looking at its impact on the environment. Capitalism’s victory (it its current form) is entirely phyrric. The environment’s capacity to sustain a capitalist world civilization (in its current form) is about to collapse.

    Howard and his band of cronies are best understood as very late recruits arrived on the field when the battle is won and their side entirely victorious. They have bravely and vigourously trodden about the field (in culture war terms) puffing their chests, telling each other and everyone else what great fellows they are and stamping on the faces of the dead and defenceless dying. Any arm raised by the crumpled as a final defence is loudly decried as a rank rebellion that threatens the entire fabric of the moral cosmos. Even more vigorous trampling ensues where the defenceless, along with all the best tenets of democracy, of law (meaning good law,) of morality and decency are all ground into the mud in one unrecognisable mash.

    However, there is a sea-change (it’s part of the climate change) coming to this world. John Howard and Co. will soon look like the dinosaurs that they are. Does that mean things will get better? I hope so but I doubt it. New kinds of manipulators and tyrants will arise always seeking to exploit the main weaknesses of the people. As J.S. Mill said, the populace are too credulous and too respectful of authority. Mind you it’s hard not to show respect to such a massive monopoly on organised terror and violence as is now wielded by the modern nation state.

  8. “95% of the electorate would have no idea about “Culture Warsâ€? and absolutely no interest in finding out.”

    Isn’t that what Quiggin just said? They had a ‘culture war’ and nobody came.

  9. Geoff, wasn’t that JQ’s point: so few people are concerned with “the culture wars” that it is not a sufficient strategy for electoral success?

    On Howard, Peter Brent makes a persuasive case that he is actually quite poor at attracting the vote: even his “big” victories have been quite small compared to other incumbents. Further, he’s been lucky: being in the right time and right place in 96, winning with a TPP minority in 98, Tampa and 9/11 in 01, and Latham in 04. No doubt persistence brings a lot of luck, but the story of Howard the ordinary bloke with an intuitive connection to the Australian people is myth.

    JQ, obviously you need to add Flint and Barnett to the first list. To the second, maybe Imre? Owen Harries?

  10. History marches on past the cultural conservatives and that pisses them off to no end. Societies move with the times (albeit slowly in the case of Australia recently) and progress is made in terms of accepting new movements and integrating them into our cultural fabric.

    People don’t mind environmentalism now, we’re warming to the idea of gay rights and women have got it better than they did in the 1950s (unless they’re the Deputy Leader of the federal ALP).

  11. You can add Sydney Morning Herald columnists Gerard Henderson and Michael Duffy to your list of movement conservative culture warriors. If having your own show on Radio National is a prerequisite, then Michael Duffy, who hosts “Counterpoint”, comes closest to being a “right-wing Phillip Adamsâ€?.

  12. Oh yes John, how could Gerard Henderson be forgotten? I’m sure he was vehemently arguing about what someone was saying in a student club in the 1960’s the other day. I’m sure no-one even cared then. Laugably the world’s crappiest paper The West Australian has this clown as a guest columnist.

  13. The culture wars may be an import from the US, however the history wars have been won, the Prime Minister has previously declared victory. To cement the victory he has put some of the warriors on the Board of the ABC, and they will be there for some time.

  14. The conservative persona feeds on fear and greed. But the overall well being of the general population reduces the ranks of the would be cultural warriors who are not deterred by their dwindling numbers. But as they rise to the challenge of the battle against complacency they see their opponent disappearing to the distance marching united to a struggle for the planet, leaving their battle field vacant. A whole new threat has arisen, a very real threat has united the entire populous even drawing in many of the conservative knights. The cultural war has become an empty memory churning only in the minds of those tormented souls who cannot give it up. For now.

  15. I think Imre is definitely in the first class (South Park conservative types follow the same general approach but have a slightly different set of targets). Harries fits the second.

    As regards CIS, they’ve promoted Lomborg. He’s clever enough not to present himself an outright delusionist, and smooth enough to be effective, but he’s definitely a culture warrior.

  16. Good topic.
    I wonder if those who rant and rave so much, actually believe it.
    If we did an interview with each of the ranters, and asked them what their honest opinion is – given that they are honest and are heart-felt about their passion against lefties – then we will see who has been lying and who hasn’t

    For instance, someone in the world somewhere believes in these exact same issues, considers them to be the ONLY things that are worth worrying about, have rationalised all other issues away, and have logically come to a conclusion that the only issues that matter in the world, and would also only matter to a Sudanese refugee – coz they are so so so obvious are:
    • gay marriage – for instance, a refugee in some camp in the world would rather spend time writing in a journal how gay marriage is destroying all other marriages, rather than get fed for the day. Such is the organicness of this topic.
    • abortion
    • left wing bias in the media
    • The Aboriginal Industry
    • unions are ruining the country, and only them
    • single mothers on pensions. This to them, is logically obvious, for the $5000 the single mother may have squandered from the state is a much more important attack on our economy than, say, Richard Pratt.
    • refugees wanting to invade Australia and ruin the Australian Way of Life
    • the Australian Way of Life – or in the case of Botswana, the Botswanian Way of Life.

    These issues are to be spoken of in a pleading way (“pleeeease understand me, I only care for everyone!) and in a relaxed and composed way.

    Every arguement is spoken in this way, with discussion points, and each person on either side holding their chin & going “mmmmm, good point, that makes sense, more sense than my point”

    Yep, ONE PERSON exists in the world, at least.

    Or else we really see that those who espouse these points of view, dont mean it, dont believe it, and are abusers of our community space. Fakes.

    For to NOT be a fake, all of them that is, they have to engage in a manner above or similarly to have any credibility.

    I’m still waiting

  17. A post I wish I’d written myself.

    I think the prominence of anti-abortionism and valorisation of the stay-at-home mother of 12 in the canon of the Culture Warriors will sooner or later be analysed as a significant factor in the demise of the Tories. When Abbott took the hard line he did on abortion and RU486 early in the current term of the Howard government, he not only brought on a fight in which he copped a well-earned drubbing, he also attracted a lot of attention and publicity to one of the least attractive faces of the Coalition.

    The Coalition’s prospects of electoral recovery over the next three years will be zero unless they strictly quarantine the likes of Abbott, Abetz, Andrews, Heffernan, McGauran, Joyce and others like them from any issue remotely relevant to gender, famkily, sexuality and women’s reproductive rights.

  18. What culture wars? We’re all singing the same metoo rational, we were all fiscal conservatives, type policies now. Here’s the classic rollover in the Saudi Arabia of uranium- http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/15/2091219.htm?site=elections/federal/2007
    You remember the good old days
    What can a moral badge wearing, anti-nukes tosser do when faced with inexorable logic eh? A nuke power station can provide all of SA’s power and at night can run a massive desal plant flat out in offpeak to get around all those tossers who have been pissing in our ears about CO2 as well as our river for years. And guess what? Who do you think is going to be picking up the bill, with all those carbon credits we get from ceasing to burn dirt from Leigh Creek? The first one will be built at Port Augusta, near the existing transformers and transmission lines and then we’ll leave the other disappointed citizens of the Iron Triangle towns of Pirie and Whyalla to fight over who gets the next one to interconnect with you lot, to save you all from Rudd’s horrendous, cap and trade, power bills. Then we’ll earn a bit more on the side dumping your medical and research low level radioactive waste. Naturally Media Mike is saving these delicate announcements for after the Federal election and if he doesn’t get in quick, well the Opposition will make the running at the next State election. That’s how culture wars are eventually won of course. Metoo or perish. We’re going to have a visibly ostentatious, solar powered airport for the benefit of all the tossers immigrating from interstate of course.

  19. My advice is to pack up the Prius and get in early before the lush gardened, aircond house prices get real ugly. Fly in first for the preliminaries and gush over the solar airport naturally.

  20. Give us your downtrodden poor, freezing and sweating in the dark, as well as your thirsty cactus growers eh?

  21. I can see where Rann is coming from with that. He is leaving the door open for cabling in Nuclear Power from Japan.

    I’m more interested in talking (as the subject of power has been raised) about the collapse of the Victorian coal mine and its ramifications for the viability (lack thereof) of geosequestration of CO2. JQ, any chance of a thread on that?

  22. My feeling out in the leafy no longer safe Coalition voting burbs of Brisbane is that it’s Howard and Co’s constant pettifogging with what Prof Q calls factoids that have turned people off. People can clearly see the big picture of lies and deception however much Howard and Co (and their blogging disciples) bang on about ‘sort-of’ facts. No amount of huffing and puffing can disguise realities like the lies told about Iraq as pretexts for war, or the patently non-existent ‘secret’ case against Haneef.

    During the campaign so far, constant carping about ‘gaffes’ by Garrett et al merely reminds voters of all they loathe about this ghastly crew, of how every utterance of Howard needs to be parsed and subjected to legal analysis for escape clauses.

    The voters have also woken up to the fact that Howard is by no means a nice bloke and in this I think the cultural warriors have performed a sterling service. The sheer nastiness of the Gerard Hendersons, Christopher Pearsons and their co-religionists in the blogosphere (like Tim Blair and his largely American posters) in defending the mendacious old schemer and his world view has alerted many to the misanthropic soul of Teh Right. The thin-lipped unpleasantness of these people has worked its own magic: they have charted their own way into the wastepaper basket of history.

  23. There is some nice wording there, Hal. I particularly like

    every utterance of Howard needs to be parsed and subjected to legal analysis for escape clauses

    that one.

  24. I am against CO2 sequestration because I see it as like buying a car by increasing your house mortgage when interests rates as low. The car wears out in seven years, but repayments last 25 with the rate of interest going up. I know sequestration is technically doable, but relies on a set of favourable circumstances that has not been shown to be without long term practicability or risk. The technologies are mature in dealing with this substance, in terms of pumping, piping and injecting the CO2. But geological interactions and costs are not known with a reasonable degree of certainty. The main danger, in my view, is that an interim technology such as this, will delay better technologies by obscuring price and demand signals leading to better technologies being developed and implemented. The resources that the implementation of CO2 sequestration would consume would be better used in solutions that reflect the structural changes in energy generation that are required.

    In contradiction to what I have just said, if a convincing case is put and shown (as may be possible) that the urgency to cut emissions is so great, that any workable solution must be considered – then so be it.

  25. Jill Rush wrote:

    “One of the major problems with the attack on unions is that those who are depicted as thugs are seen as blokes operating in a hard industry who are only reacting to the bullying of the bosses”

    A point well made, Jill. In the construction industry (in which my father worked all his life) workers get killed and maimed because of the callousness and cupidity of the very same employers that the Right depicts as put-upon victims whenever union officials use tough strategies and tactics (and unsubtle and highly vernacular language) to protect the wages, conditions, lives and limbs of their members.

  26. And I seem to recall that the Right’s culture warriors never seem to have a problem with boisterous CFMEU members and officials when they’re from the Forestry Division and they’re campaigning for the logging companies and the Coalition against the greenies and Labor (as in 2004).

  27. I seem to remember that feminism died in the arse long before Howard, so it was always a bit bemusing to hear it being railed against.

    I’m not sure what evidence you have for that weird suggestion, Worst O’Perth, although living in Perth I guess you’re not exactly at its epicentre.

  28. It’s odd – but I would have written this post almost the same but from the perspective that it’s the left wing that obsesses about the so called ‘culture war’. I’m still not sure what a culture war is – but I do know that the only time I hear the term is in the left leaning blogosphere.

  29. The culture wars are indeed the most obvious aspect, but more generally this government has always had the problem that its preferences are well to the right of those of the median voter.

    It is only consistently good (if cynical) tactics by Howard, a mediocre opposition and a hostile Senate that has kept it in the game so long. Once that constraint was removed and it was free to follow its ideological instincts it duly followed them – to electoral disaster.

  30. I would agree with JQ’s assertion; everybody is tired of the culture wars and they just want to live their lives.

    ATM the ALP is presenting a softer version of the Libs and thats what voters want.

    JH’s problem was that he grew too big for the position, he should have pulled in his horns and managed things efficiently. His need to control the public debate has marginalised him from just about everybody.

    Its a shame, he did have the publics confidence, thats why Libs are mystified as to why there are no baseball bats out for them, its just time.

  31. rog, IMHO (but based on observations from 1972 and 1983) Labor victories from opposition are never ‘baseball bat’ affairs – that’s what happens when the Tories win from opposition. This is primarily because Labor wins are associated with more positive emotions than anger and a desire to punish, which the ‘baseball bat’ metaphor neatly captures. The surprise really is that so few in the RWDB commenatariat are in touch with positive emotions – hence their incomprehension at the shellacking about to be inflicted on them.

  32. Yae verily Ikonoclast, Some one in the SMH today quoted Thucididies via Colin Powell. which reminded me of the Melian dialogue, one of the original, recorded, culture wars.

    re our CW, i think that while the rodent was calling the troops to arms at posh dinners, thanks Zarquon, his opponents were at various parties, down the pub and at the cricket and footy having the face to face interactions that show up the rattus crew for the bunch of rovian doublethinkers that they are.

    Did you never go to a Trot party Proff Q? they are fun, tho you never know where the youngsters will end up when they grow up. in the mean time there is plenty of time to sing guthrie and seeger tunes and the odd bush ballard, like “the Billygoat Overland”

  33. “I do know that the only time I hear the term is in the left leaning blogosphere.”

    Presumably you’re unaware of Fox News and its star turn self-described “Culture Warrior” Bill O’Reilly.

    If so, you are a very lucky man.

  34. To get elected Rudd has simply moved Labor onto Howard territory, whatever that is. Presumably it’s some horrible place no decent thinking person would possibly want to go, let alone vote for. In reality it’s where you have to be nowadays to get elected and with that horrible little man gone soon, it will then be a nice place to be. You know it all makes sense.

  35. The Rudd Govt. must move swiftly to purge the ABC Board of that quite awful right-wing crew thatg Howard has placed there,
    Out with Albrechtson.Keith Windshuttle,and all of them
    That will be the first very real victory in the Culture Wars for the Left

  36. Engaging in the same ideologically-driven partisan patronage would validate the whle absurd “culture wars” paradigm and be a dangerous step further down the road to an American-style spoils culture.

    As Director of the Office of Cabinet. Kevin Rudd (along with Wayne Swann then the Director-General of the Premier’s Department) cleaned up the culture of corruption and cronyism within Queensland government after the Bjelke-Petersen issue.

    I would hope that Rudd restores propriety to the process of selecting ABC board members and that this process will in time see the place-men off the board.

  37. In reality it’s where you have to be nowadays to get elected and with that horrible little man gone soon, it will then be a nice place to be. You know it all makes sense.

    Does this explain why so many Tories are running dead in this campaign?

    If Howard is so universally detested, why didn’t the Tories have him taken out and shot?

    Could the answer be that the issues go deeper than personalities. Might the issues also concern themselves with culture?

  38. […] hasn’t been a feature of the Liberal message. As a number of commentators, including John Quiggin, Guy Rundle and myself, have observed, the debate has already moved on and the culture wars have […]

  39. “Culture Wars” seem to be the particular product of sour, self-centred old men like Howard and Murdoch, to whom any generous, youthful impulse is hateful. I would like to think that their departure will raise the tone of cultural discourse, but I fear that their appearance and the power they wield are symptomatic of the aging of the population. Are we to be the victims for the foreseeable future of the narrowness, selfishness and envy of a gerontocracy of wizened and resentful mediocrities?

  40. For people who are so sure that the “culture war” was the beat-up of “a cabal of right wing pundits” beholden to Howard and his “minions”, you lot spend an awful lot of time writing and fretting about it. You are right to imply that this “cabal” is a very small minority – furthermore its alleged members have no tax-paid backing; unlike the legions of academics and the hordes of their ideological progeny. Contrary to ridiculous conspiracy theories and obsessions about Howard’s alleged obsession with the culture wars, his government increased the flow of billions of dollars towards your lefties in the universities, the ABC, etcettera, and sent nothing in the direction of the so-called “cabal”. So why do you spend so much time slurring its alleged members, moaning about the terrible time the left has had warding off Howard’s fourth Reich, and convincing yourselves that the culture war will all go away when he does?

    If it is true that the “right-wing” pundits have been as influential as the left says it has, they were so as a small minority, on a shoestring, against overwhelming opposition. That should lead you to wonder how they achieved that feat. You have the entrenched ideologies, the tax-paid billions, the educational monopoly, the ABC, Fairfax, etc etc on your side – how could you loose any battle, let alone any culture war? The imagined “cabal” has a few very good and dedicated men and woman who have given up a great deal to proselytize their convictions, but they are such a small under-funded scattering of individuals that they could not have had any impact unless they had some advantage – what?

    Contrary to your epistemology, discovering what in “factual reality” is right and wrong is not a matter of taking a poll of the intellectual class. A poll of the intellectual class last century had communism as the benevolent wave of the future and capitalism as the malevolent exploitation of the past, and this consensus convinced the “average person” to go along with that view. But the intellectuals were totally and horribly wrong. And those of you who believe that what comes out of humanities classrooms has got to be considered true are just as wrong.

    The advantage some of the “right-wing pundits” have is that while you assume truth to be correspondence to the “scholarly consensus”, they assume truth to be correspondence to an independent reality that exist out there in the real world. That is why their arguments are “factoid-based” as our host disparagingly puts it. But it is not “factual reality” that this method insulates them from; it is the “scholarly consensusâ€? that gave us a billion dead from communism last century and a methodology that rationalises away such inconvenient truths. No, the intellectuals are not communists any more – their multiculturalism/egalitarianism/postmodernism/nihilism is much worse.

  41. John Dawson is correct. The Right has lost the Culture War.

    But I’d like to ask John Dawson three questions.

    1. What does he think is the most dangerous item of left wing consensus prevalent in our culture?

    2. What has prevented the Right from undermining the grip this consensus on public opinion?

    3. How could the Right do better in future?

  42. “The advantage some of the “right-wing punditsâ€? have is that while you assume truth to be correspondence to the “scholarly consensusâ€?, they assume truth to be correspondence to an independent reality that exist out there in the real world.”

    right, that’s why it was a Bush administration official who gave us the disparaging term “reality-based community”.

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