Send in the clowns

I’ve been working on a post about how to respond to commentators like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt, and about the suggestion that they should simply be dismissed as clownish entertainers, to be ignored rather than criticised. But now that the Abbott government has turned into a clownshow (or maybe one of those medieval theatre restaurant shows) it’s hard to know what to do.

It’s amusing, in a morbid way, to watch the government’s more sensible supporters squirm with embarrassment as David Flint becomes the face of Australian conservatism. This lame capitulation from Malcolm Turnbull (whose advocacy of an Australian republic was all about symbolism after all) is a pretty good example.

But three years of continuous culture war is going to get a bit dull.

80 thoughts on “Send in the clowns

  1. It is very funny, and almost designed to rile up leftists and self-styled “progressives”. Given that left-wing administrations have stripped Australian institutions back over decades in anticipation of a Republic that never was, this is just one step forward in strengthening existing institutions.

  2. Faust I think you must be one of those righties who enjoy seeing the others hurt by the small minded hatred that some sad and psychologically damaged men seem to feel for most of the world.

    Surprisingly Michelle Grattan says something very insightful in her article today on The Conversation. She says about the right to be a bigot;

    “Isn’t the aim supposed to be a world of unrestrained biffo all round?”

    She is right and it seems that the existing ‘institutions’ and culturally valued behaviours that you want strengthened and admired are those that privilege uber–masculine, aggressive, thick-skinned, loud and proud, ways of interacting and deciding which different wants and needs that people have will be heard?

    Grattan also notes:

    “Bolt was outraged when outspoken indigenous figure Marcia Langton threw around allegations about him on television. “I was so bruised … that I didn’t go into work on Tuesday. I couldn’t stand any sympathy — which you get only when you’re meant to feel hurt,” he wrote.”

    lol I am sure Grattan didn’t believe this piece of sanctimonious hypocrisy was an honest claim by Bolt. Good for her to refuse to acknowledge this sly and nasty behaviour. But this sort of humour that relies on prejudice and bigotry is regarded by small minded right wing people as a hilarious behaviour worthy of admiration just because it upsets their enemies.

    And it seems to me that people like Terje and faust agree with this idea that a simple minded man with a thick skin who is very aggressive and disdainful of a large part of the population, is intelligent, rather than being an average intellect who is driven by his desire for self-aggrandisement and a hatred for ‘the other’.

    He is as narrow minded and ignorant as our PM and his men and his one woman. and the true hilarity is this admiration for a man who foolishly believes that he is superior to most of the country in his intellect and ability to see the truth behind the leftie delusions.

  3. These are not “culture wars” or “tribal wars”. They are ideology wars and class wars. The terms “culture war” and “tribal war” are journalistic and “pop sociology” terms, the former term at least appropriated and re-invented by US sociologist (and now Christian Right convert), James Davison Hunter.

    We have the spectacle of Tony “Nero” Abbott fiddling with archaic honours while the world burns from global warming. There is a kind of neurotic logic to this. Faced with great problems that are difficult to grapple with, weaker intellects like Tony Abbott’s retreat into denial and neurotic re-ordering of some irrelevant aspect of socially orderable reality which they are fixated on; shuffling deck chairs, rearranging furniture, conferring coloured ribbons, enamelled discs of metal and fine words of praise called “honours”.

    Closer to home, Campbell Newman’s war against everybody proceeds apace. There is no worker, indeed is there no profession, that Newman will not attack. Witness his battles for power with the doctors and the legal profession. Newman’s and his cabinet’s megalomania proceeds apace.

  4. Thanks for the long rant, Julie.

    I take pleasure in seeing the Australian Left squirm more than I take pleasure in seeing the Left in other countries be uncomfortable because of the sanctimonious clap-trap that I have to put up with from you lot.

    Why is it that the most active self-styled “progressive” types who pontificate on television are the doyenne of the Sydney and Melbourne social scenes? Why is it that the Republican movement, a movement that prided itself on somehow getting away with privilege and airs and graces, basically run by a bunch of Australia’s wealthiest? What I see is a group of wealthy Australians safely enjoying the comforts of life talking down the bulk of the population from the pages of the SMH/Age and from the television studios of the ABC.

    I enjoy seeing hypocrites like Quentin Bryce take the honour and somehow pass it off like it is about respect. It is similar to Andrew Leigh recently saying that when he greeted the royals the last time they were in Australia he wore his ARM cufflinks – what small minded pettiness.

    For decades I have been told to be ashamed of being an Australian. That our history is disgusting and is a stain on me and everyone else who happens to share the same colour skin. I recently listened as Lisa Wilkinson on Q&A said that, in effect, white able-bodied straight men have never suffered from discrimination and ipso facto are the perpetrators of discrimination.

    What I enjoy seeing is the echo chamber of this blog and the Guardian erupt with outrage by a bunch of self styled “progressives” who think and act superior to the vast bulk of the population.

    One day you and everyone on this board who believe in Left wing causes should ask why it is that the Labor Party, despite being the oldest party in Australia, is so often an Opposition Party and not considered the Natural Party of Government. Finally, why is it that the best performing Labor Government implemented essentially liberal reforms and not “labor” or “progressive” reforms (Hawke)? If you ask these questions maybe you’ll realise that you and other “progressives” like you do not hold all the answers and that the “bogans” are cleverer than you think.

  5. Those who reason that Abbott’s monarchist moves were those of a political ‘diversionist’ – taking attention away from financial planning, bigot freedom, asylum seekers – need to remember that William and family will be here soon. Time enough to do the sword anointing as required by knighthoods. I find it hard to believe it of Bryce. OTOH Cosgrove is the very model of a gartered governor general general.
    Maybe Labor are in with a chance in 2016.

  6. As a Greens party member and volunteer on the ground, anecdotal of course, I get the real sense that people are realising what they’ve done to themselves. The WA Senate by-election will be very interesting, but it’s a dangerous pity Labor are so pathetic.

    They fought against the Greens (and the AEC) in the Court of Disputed Returns to keep the first Senate count which would have included their Senator Louise Pratt and the Palmer candidate. They should recognise that their is a chance to get two progressive Senators (Labor plus Scott Ludlam) rather than Labor/Green plus Palmer/aligned micro.

    There’s a real concern from the filthy-Libs that they won’t get their taken-for-granted third Senator in the re-run. Can Labor pinch it? Will they try really hard? Doesn’t seem like it. Their ground strategy over here is non-existent and they just LOVE to fight each other.

    The result could be 2 LNP, 2 Labor, 1 Green and 1 right-micro. That’s an improvement in the Senate balance for progressive candidates, because it’s a net -1 on the numbers One-Term-Tony would have been counting.

    Otherwise it’s playtime for the circus clowns that are the right’s eco-chambered bubble.

  7. oh dear it wasn’t a rant Faust, but you go ahead and whinge about how unfair the whole world is to you poor people of the right.

    One would think that such superior intellects would be able to rise above this sanctimony from ‘the others’ and not take pleasure in being cruel to other people. But I guess that is another feature of right wing psychology; lower IQ on average, higher levels of fear of the unknown and taking pleasure in being cruel to taking financial advantage of less able people.

  8. I’m not squirming, I’m laughing.

    More seriously, the fact that Abbott can find people like faust to back him on this nonsense suggests that he isn’t so much trolling us as pandering to the most reactionary elements of his own base, the kind who display the ressentiment (look it up!) of faust@4. That’s very poor judgement on his part, and increases Labor’s chances in 2016

  9. @faust

    That’s an interesting point of view. How do you see the future playing out from this point onwards? Will the right be eternally triumphant? Will capitalism continue for ever? Will growth continue for ever? Are climate change and resource limits real problems or just lefty myths? Please enlightenment me. I am genuinely interested to know what you think on these issues.

  10. @faust

    Yours was a spittle-flecked rant. I imagine you felt better getting that off your chest, and if so, then well done you.

    I have no means to assess accurately either your erudition or insight — based on your writing style, I’d say that you were better educated than most — but your rant here shows that when something upsets people, neither erudition nor insight can prevent them doing things that make them look foolish.

    You’ve assembled a string of strawmen in this topic and then decalred that they annoyed you, subverting your comfort in your own skin — offering that as warrant for the imagined Schadenfreude you think the left of your imaginattion is experiencing. If that comforts you, then so be it. I’m for the comfort of others, when it doesn’t harm any legitimate interest of any one else.

    Your question about why the ALP is not “the natural party of government” can’t be answered adequately this side of a treatise, as both overarching causes and secondary consequences of those causes and a range of external factors to be weighed. The short answer is that they simply haven’t proved very good at mobilising and consistently engaging a coherent constituency of sufficient weight to parry the rather better resourced parties of the boss class, in circumstances where large sections of their constituency are socially marginalised and likely to engage in irrational and maladaptive behaviour not completely unlike the behaviour you’ve shown here.

  11. hmm typos:

    then declared that they annoyed you, subverting your comfort in your own skin — offering that as warrant for the imagined Schadenfreude you think the left of your imagination is experiencing

    Now that’s annoying …

  12. @John Quiggin

    What puzzles me (or perhaps it doesn’t) is the ressentiment shown by right wing supporters like faust. The right is winning. The neocons are winning. Late stage capitalism is winning. And the supporters of this situation believe pretty much that this is the “end of history” i.e. that it will now be a continuous state of affairs. Why would one of the “winners” display ressentiment rather than simply disdain or disregrard? The only answer is that such a person is not really a winner.

    A great number of the supporters of the right are not winners. They cannot be winners because late stage capitalism moves “winning” up to the top 1% or maybe to the top 10% at the most generous assessment. In the absence of winning, that is getting a lot of “bread”, the poorer supporters of the right (i.e. most of them) face a choice between a realistic reassessment of what is happening or a choice to shut down the mind, avoid cognitive dissonance and be entertained by the “cruelty circuses” that modern system is developing to keep the masses “happy”.

    Panem et circenses!

  13. @JohnQuiggin

    Doubtful my ranting would make any difference to the 2016 election. What matters is jobs and economic security and whether people think these are better under LNP or ALP. The biggest risk factor is Abbott/LNP being painted as out of touch but I reserve judgement until more conclusive polling is done. Significant political capital has been expended on this, 18C and subsidies so Abbott needs to rebuild. If not then 2016 will be a fair tougher fight.


    I wish the Whig theory of history holds true but I do not know the future so I cannot foretell. My biggest concern is Australia segmenting into racial lines with minimal interaction (small probability but always a concern). Regards capitalism and environmental degradation. Nothing remains static forever and I think we are facing one of those inflection points that will establish the “rules” for the next 30 years. Oh, and resource constraints are a reality and not the figment of fevered leftist imaginations and people needs to get serious about sustainability.


    I’d love to respond but don’t have time at this moment since you raise some interesting points.

  14. @John Quiggin
    It may be that Tony Abbott does think in terms of pandering to supporters (although doubtless he would not use that particular terminology himself) as a strategic decision, but I don’t think we can exclude the possibility that he himself thinks in term of riling his opponents (a category in which he may quite likely include Malcolm Turnbull) and making them squirm (although again he may not use that exact terminology), that for him expectations about the people who will dislike his actions is an important motive in itself, that (in short) he acts out of spite. You made much the same suggestion yourself not long ago.

  15. @faust
    Since I have been old enough to vote, Australia has had twelve Federal elections: of those, Labor won seven and the Coalition five. In my lifetime, there have been nineteen Federal elections: of those, Labor won nine and the Coalition ten. Perhaps my personal history is too arbitrary a benchmark. Let’s take one of larger significance. Since the Liberal Party was formed, there have been twenty-seven Federal elections: of those, Labor won ten and the Coalition seventeen. That’s more of a disparity, but is it a great enough disparity to tell us something really important about Australia, or Australian Federal party politics? How much are the statistics the product of just one single exceptional and unrepresentative run in which the Coalition won nine consecutive elections and held office for twenty-three years? Is it relevant to note that in three of those nine elections there were actually more people voting for Labor than for the Coalition? If we do make use of that indicator, we find that out of those twenty-seven Federal elections since the Liberal Party was formed, Labor has received more votes in thirteen and the Coalition in fourteen.

  16. This kind of symbolic give-’em-the-middle-finger conservative gesture-making is popular in the US, where finding ways to piss off “liberals” is about the only political goal on which conservatives can agree. The purpose over there is to keep the base enthusiastic enough to vote, which means I’m puzzled as to why Abbott’s mob sees value in it here. However I suppose it drives a bit of a wedge in their enemies (Shorten’s mother-in-law accepting the new honour creates an immediate problem for Labor in devising a response) and it diverts attention from awkward things like asylum centre inquiries in PNG and suspended assistant treasurers.

  17. Salon had a nice article yesterday on how to deal with the nonsense peddled by the Bolts of this world.

    The bigger worry is perhaps Turnbull. Like Peter Garrett in another time his public fire seems to have been quenched totally. Was his past speaking all for show and he only rode public transport to work because it was good PR for wets who wanted to believe that the Liberals have not been taken over by the Fruit Loop faction?

    Separately John you might look at references to Rod Quantock who similarly complained his comedy just couldn’t match the absurdities of Jeff Kennet’s construction of reality.

  18. Brisbane’s daily Murdoch rag The Curious Smell had a front cover about Mr Rabbit’s re-introduction of British honours, done in old timey style, and ‘this is not a joke’ written up top.

    So it’s not just lefties laughing about this.

  19. @J-D

    Abbott pursues both the motives of spiting his tribal enemies (us) and pandering to his tribal allies. My point is that it’s easier to respond to the second kind of tribalism since we can either point and laugh (as in this case) or point out the interest-group politics involved (when the pandering involves payoffs for favored groups, like the stuff for financial advisors and Catholic charities smuggled in to the “red tape day” nonsense).

    When we are dealing with stuff intended to anger us, and which does actual harm, calibrating the appropriate response is a bit trickier.

  20. I feel sorry for Quentin Bryce. I think it was reasonable of her to take on the GG position, despite being a republican (someone has to do it, and I would prefer not a monarchist), and she did a good job. But having taken on the position, she was more or less obliged to accept Abbott’s decision to confer (what I take to be) an unwanted honorific.

  21. when such honours were reinstated in New Zealand a few years ago, more than a few winners of the previous top awards who were of a Labour party alingment accepted the offer from John Key of an upgrade to Sir or Dame.

  22. “she was more or less obliged to accept Abbott’s decision …”

    I don’t see why. She could have simply declined privately and refused to comment if asked about it. She is under no obligation to accept the PM’s advice about a personal matter, especially when she quits the office in a day or two.

  23. @John Quiggin

    Yep. My opinion of her was high until this. Leaving aside the “commander in chief” fiction (Howard rooted that) she’s done a very good job. Pity about this. I think i’ll continue to think of her as Mrs or Ms Bryce.

    As for General Cosgrove I gather that army types live for medals and titles. (See also Muttley). He’s already got a chest full of medals and orders. Surely he’s been rewarded enough?

  24. I don’t see these honours as locking in a monarchy. But nor do I think it the job of PM or the government to be giving out such things. However it is nothing new. A young relative of mine got the Premiers Award for academic achievement. You’re hardly going to refuse such a thing. I’d accept a title or award even whilst feeling a little irreverent about the whole notion. It’s always flattering to be given recognition for accomplishments or contribution.

  25. And it seems to me that people like Terje and faust agree with this idea that a simple minded man with a thick skin who is very aggressive and disdainful of a large part of the population, is intelligent, rather than being an average intellect who is driven by his desire for self-aggrandisement and a hatred for ‘the other’.

    I think Bolt is of average intellect. His on the fly comprehension of what others are saying in a conversations sometimes seems a bit weak. But he sticks to an issue like glue and gets better at it over time. I think his main quality is that he works hard and is prepared to take a position misaligned with conventional opinion. Yes I think he enjoys the spotlight in many regards but that’s sort of true of most people who are frequently in the spotlight. I think the idea that he is a big hater is untrue. I think he is very tough on some ideas and some behaviour and hence very critical of some people but I don’t think he is driven by hatred.

    As outlined previously I also think Bolt is wrong on a number of issues. But there is hardly a person I know of that I don’t consider wrong on some issues.

  26. @John Quiggin

    I feel sorry for Quentin Bryce.

    I don’t. She has fallen greatly in my estimation. As Ken says, even if she wanted to avoid an unseemly ruckus, she might simply have advised Abbott that she was not minded to accept, and undertaken to wave away any inquiries with “no comment”.

  27. Rog #26 “the responsibity for resurrecting honorifics” might indeed “lie with Abbott” but the responsibility for accepting one rests squarely on the recipient. Plenty of people have refused them over the years. Winston Churchill and William Gladstone both declined honours to which their respective sovereigns thought they were entitled. Quentin Bryce would have had no serious obstacle to refusing a mere Tony Abbott, should she have been so minded. Even if the news leaked, as everything seems to these days, so what?

  28. @John Quiggin
    I can’t see any way you can figure that Quentin Bryce was ‘obligated’ to accept. The standard protocol with all honours is for the potential recipient to be sounded out confidentially in advance. It is considered so essential to avoid public refusals that no public offer is made until acceptance has been privately confirmed. I imagine the chances are that if Quentin Bryce had made clear (confidentially) that she would not accept it would have made an offer to Peter Cosgrove much harder, but that would have been a good result, not a bad one.

    Back in the days when Australian Prime Ministers were routinely appointed to the Privy Council, Alfred Deakin never took up that honour. I don’t see why Quentin Bryce couldn’t have looked to that precedent if she wanted to. Instead ‘[she] left us just for a ribbon to stick in [her] coat’.

  29. Tony Abbott has become the most irresponsible prime minister in Australian history. He reckless and thoughtless. He has no mind for social consequences or social well being. He has now wedged the office of the Governor-General, nominally the head of state. It, and it occupants, now any future appointments, have become objects of division and contempt for 50% or more of the population. Social class politics and ethnic identity, at vicious and vindictive level, has become the primary focus. This is the expression of politics of alienation and the paradigm of violence. (Does this make sense?)

  30. Bill Woodfull, famous Australian cricketer, declined in 1934 … Bryce didn’t need to match Francis Bacon or Alfred Deakin, but she might have been embarrassed to fall lower than a cricketer.

  31. Nothing smells like the end of The Age of Entitlement than imperial honours. That’s sticking it to those elites …

    I’m no republican, but this might well spur renewed interest.

  32. It smells like a regression into the British Colonial era. That is certainly living in the past. Britain is a second rate power about to crumble further. The Finance Ponzi Scheme that is “The City” or the Finance Industry in London is about the last vestige of an economy that the UK possesses. Once that house of cards crumbles, the UK is just another old Imperial power, now a “colourful”, shambolic backwater in terminal decline.

  33. @Ikonoclast

    That large swathes of the City of London are in thrall to Russian billionaires does lend a certain piquancy to the imperial honours system. Sure there’s an empire, but which one?

  34. @faust

    It was shameful of a republican let alone Ms Bryce to accept the award, John Quiggan is being very kind to her. Personally I don’t feel as Terje does that it is good to get awards. I hated them at school because I don’t like to be the centre of attention. I don’t like the envy that comes afterward and the fake congratulations so it is easier not to compete. So I would never accept any award like that.

    I don’t even go the Mayor’s breakfast’s that I get invites to as a volunteer for the community. We are all different you know.

    But Ms Bryce is an ineffective pleasant woman I suppose. I have seen her up close when she opened the Stanthorpe Art Show as Qld GG a few years ago. She had just returned from a visit to Monet’s Garden and had planned to talk about that by referring to various flower paintings in the exhibition,

    Unfortunately there was not one flower painting in the whole exhibition so her speech did not go as planned but she coped. John MacDonald – at the time the Sydney Morning Herald Art Critic – was the judge and apparently he doesn’t like flower paintings. The Stanthorpe upper class – lol – were also somewhat disconcerted by the lack of flower paintings also but they copped it well because Mr MacDonald was so charming.

    With reference to the other comment, I have no idea what point I proved to you. You could explain more clearly but you seem to be enjoying feeling persecuted.

    For example, “For decades I have been told to be ashamed of being an Australian. That our history is disgusting and is a stain on me and everyone else who happens to share the same colour skin.”

    Who told you to feel that way? Not me. Why is it my problem that you feel like that? I am a white woman and I have white men sons and brothers etc and we don’t feel ashamed of being Australian. You are just making up that feeling. It isn’t rational.

    Than you go on “I recently listened as Lisa Wilkinson on Q&A said that, in effect, white able-bodied straight men have never suffered from discrimination and ipso facto are the perpetrators of discrimination.”

    Is that really what she said? Word for word or are you interpreting her meaning through your anti-left coloured glasses/bias?

    And anyway so what? I don’t understand the significance of you having had to listen to that. Can you tell me what the problem actually was? You could have turned the program off and watched a re-run of Bolt, no?

    Anyway, I won’t go on with my inconvenient questions. Take your time with a reply, you are so busy I wonder why you thought it was so important for you to comment on your feelings.

  35. Without Mr Bolt who would stand up for the most privileged against the self hating Leftist elites who are trying to make us embarrassed about ourselves ? Seriously tho – he fascinates me ,I often watch his show and read his column in the Herald Sun. I’m just itching to know how many of his views are genuinely held .

    I’m not sure the Right is winning much .They have lost the moral policy fight so comprehensively that they have all but abandoned it – it is only nuts like Abbott ,the Tea Party and Bernardi that stick to it. If the Conservatives hadnt betrayed their roots and jumped onto the free market extremist bandwagon( simply to protect privilege) they wouldnt be winning the economic argument either . Splitting policy between morals and economics like that is simplistic I know but it makes the point for now. Conservatives are dying off at a disproportionately fast rate compared to the younger Left -hence the urgency of culture war activity. One more generation should do it .

  36. I would like to see Straya become a republic but if Betty Windsor wanted to tap me shoulders with the pointy end of a scimitar and make me a kniggit then I wouldn’t say no. It has advantages, even if it us an anachronism. Would Sir like a table at this otherwise fully booked restaurant? Too right Sir would. Viva le republic, and hurry up with the drinks. Can’t fault Q. Bryce for doing the same.

  37. Faust – reaction around the general population is not squirming but a massive roar of laughter and a general taking the piss out of the whole idea. Everyone is awarding themselves knighthoods on twitter and just having a good chuckle at the silliness of it.

    It has also brought back to public awareness memories of some of the outstanding purchasing of honours in days gone by.

    If the republicans can keep the laughter rolling it might just promote a republican revival.

  38. Terje

    I’m not criticising anyone for wanting honours and things that I don’t like – not at all – I like different things and people who do like honours. That is the good thing about people for me, we are different.

    The things I don’t like about Bolt seem to be things that you do like. When you say he seems a bit weak about understanding what people are saying in a discussion, I see that as a character fault – this is a value judgement for sure. But surely a really rational person listens to the other person in a way that ensures they do understand what the other is saying?

    Otherwise if you win, you have not won fairly? It is not admirable for a strong person to be unaware of their strength and the effect this strength has on other people. For me that is the ‘right’ thing to do; it’s my culture.

    When you say that it is good that Bolt sticks like glue to an issue I don’t understand what you mean and from my point of view you are describing an obsessive person, and this is not always a good thing. When you say he gets better at it; again I don’t understand what you mean by ‘better’ or ‘it’.

    In my way of thinking, better means more evidence and a more rational argument to support the original claim. These differences in our value judgements about people are not contrived by either of us and are quite significant don’t you think?

    And, I really cannot see why it is not admirable to upset people you don’t like when this intent to upset has knock-on effects or does collateral damage to other less ‘brave’ people. That is irresponsible.

  39. Pr Q said:

    But now that the Abbott government has turned into a clownshow (or maybe one of those medieval theatre restaurant shows) it’s hard to know what to do…It’s amusing, in a morbid way, to watch the government’s more sensible supporters squirm with embarrassment as David Flint becomes the face of Australian conservatism…My point is that it’s easier to respond to the second kind of tribalism since we can either point and laugh (as in this case)

    The “disenchantment of the world” (Weber) is very often a dreadful thing. So conservatives welcome any ancient custom that can be salvaged from the wreckage of our post-modern Medusa.

    Let Pr Q and the smarty-pants set mock, sneer and laugh all they like, it remains the case that we “medievalists” have had the last laugh on securing the highest office in the land. Look at the current (Oct 2013) public opinion scoreboard, registering the highest level of support for this so-called archaic institution in a generation:

    Only 34 per cent of Australians aged over 14 support a republic, the lowest level since 1991.

    Better still, the young are even less turned on by the republic than their ageing ex-hippy elders:

    The Morgan figures indicate young Australians are just as keen on the monarchy as their older compatriots. They show 55 per cent of 14-17 year olds also back the monarchy, while only 31 per cent of their number are  republicans.

    [cue Whitney…”I believe that children are our future…”]

    More specifically, restoring chivalric honours should be appealing even to those who fancy themselves as “with-it” and “thoroughly modern”. Muggeridge  described his Left-wing views as based on “a chivalrous feeling”, with a converse loathing of modern “liberalism” which he viewed as a corrupt degeneration of the original article.

    Let’s face it, ourx elites (with “some notable exceptions”) are not a very appealing bunch, are they? Not very creative (unless it’s accounting), not very enterprising (except for discreet drug taking), not very sacred (preferring profanity) and not very brave (indisposed to military service). The general impression is one of hedonism, solipsism and nihilsm. We need better role models than DJs, hedge fund managers and “super-models”.

    Bringing back knights of the realm and dames would hopefully encourage in our elites a spirit of altruistic sacrifice, a more modest and genteel affect and a respect for traditional British institutions. Artificial General Intelligence is on the horizon and with it the possibility of an epidemic of anomie. So for navigating the ship of state, good “seamanship consists in using the resources of a traditional manner of behaviour in order to make a friend of every hostile occasion.”

  40. I caution thee, Sir Jack – didst thou not recall that Lord Quiggin forbade thee to converse on the perilous subject of the culture war? Desist, I beseech ye – lest ye feel his effulgent wrath!

  41. @jack strocchi
    So where does the reinstatement of chivalry fit into the financial advice rule changes? The republic isn’t an important issue at the moment for me, but if anyone is going to revive my interest in it, it will be a bunch of angry old culture warriors.

  42. When you say he seems a bit weak about understanding what people are saying in a discussion, I see that as a character fault – this is a value judgement for sure.

    Of course it’s a character flaw. I’m surprised that you could think I meant it any other way.

  43. I agree with JQ’s assessment of the position Bryce found herself in.

    I think she offered up a superb farewell speech early this week that seemed to have Sir Anthony Abbott squirming in his seat at times.

  44. Michael @ #47 said:

    So where does the reinstatement of chivalry fit into the financial advice rule changes?

    Nowhere or anywhere, its up to you. If there is one thing I have banged on about this past decade or so its the intellectually lazy and ideologically blinkered attitude of partisans forcing themselves to take a consistent party line on every issue.

    Why can’t one, for example, oppose the weakening of financial regulation and support the return of chivalry? FWIW that is my position. I know that this would be inconsistent with Left-wing and Right-wing true believers. They will just have to manage without my whole-hearted support.

    The owner of this blog is a brilliant economist and a decent fellow. But he falls into precisely the same trap as that which he accuses his opponents: tribalism.

    As soon as you surrender your free will to a party or movement you lose the ability to think clearly and act properly. There are times when this is justified. But blogging is not one of them.

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