Pot, meet kettle

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.

80 thoughts on “Pot, meet kettle

  1. @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.

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

    And the evidence is…..?

  3. 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!?

  4. @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.


  5. @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.

  6. @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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.
    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.

  9. @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.

  10. @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.

  11. (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.

  12. @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?

  13. 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


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

  14. @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.

  15. 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.

  16. @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.

  17. @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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.


  20. 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.

  21. @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.

  22. 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.

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