Could the culture wars really be over?

It seems almost inconceivable that the culture wars that have dominated Australian public life for decades could end, and with victory for the progressive side on nearly every front.  And I have made premature predictions to this effect before. 

 But consider the following list of events over the last couple of years, many in the last few months.

*  After decades of quasi-legality in many states, abortion rights have been enshrined in law throughout Australia – attempts to mobilise public opposition went nowhere
*  Voluntary assisted dying has now been legalised nearly everywhere (a bill in NSW looks very likely to be passed) – again the debate was low-key and generally civil

*  The Morrison government, backed by the Murdoch press, appears certain to adopt a 2050 net zero target, and a somewhat more ambitious 2030 target. While there will still be plenty of fights about the details, these will be in the realm of normal political dispute. Culture war denialism (even of the nod-and-wink variety) is now outside the Overton window. 

* Transgender rights are estabished in law, and attempts to whip up culture war on the issue (as with Safe Schools) haven’t been successful.

*  Despite the long and bitter battle over equal marriage, the issue disappeared almost as soon as the law was changed. No one on the right even mentions the idea that it might be reversed. Nor do we see any of the snarky talking points and bogus studies purporting to prove that the idea was disastrous.  Religious freedom laws, if they are ever passed, are likely to restrict rather than expand the existing exemption of religious employers from anti-discrimination laws (an exemption which is becoming harder to exercise in the absence of social license)

The big exception to all of this is the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. As elsewhere it’s been a potent issue for the culture war right and one on which they have generally been successful.  

What remains of the culture wars is a kind of free-floating identity politics in which well-off university-educated people denounce others with indistinguishable lifestyles as ‘inner city elites’ and appeal to ‘real Australians’, which roughly translates to ‘people with moderately bigoted views about others, who want a free pass for this’.

35 thoughts on “Could the culture wars really be over?

  1. Ironically, it’s easy to see how the Christian Right can find biblical justification to argue issues about gender preference, right to life, and religious freedom, whereas the enthusiasm with which refugees have been abused by Government policy and accepted by the electorate is not so easily defended by reference to scripture.

  2. Ironically, it’s easy to see how the Christian Right can find biblical justification to argue issues about gender preference, right to life, and religious freedom, whereas the enthusiasm with which refugees have been abused by Government policy and accepted by the electorate is not so easily defended by reference to scripture.

    I always wanted to see posters which showed on one side John Howard with the caption ‘We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come’ and on the other side Jesus (no caption; just his image; I know nobody knows what he actually looked like, but people recognise images intended to represent him).

  3. You’ve mentioned a few things which are now widely accepted even though only a few years ago that seemed a long way off. I could easily mention about half a dozen things which still seem to be a very long way from being widely accepted. Ten years from now or a hundred years from now they might still be just as far from general acceptance. On the other hand, opinion on those issues might turn just as it has on others, and it might be sudden and unexpected to the same degree.

    I haven’t mentioned any of the issues I have in mind, but they’re not the point. If I did mention them, you might say those things are different, and that they are things that should not be widely accepted. You might be right about that, too, but that’s not the point. Also you might say that they are not hotly contested ‘culture-war’ type issues, and that’s true now, but the way ‘culture wars’ get started, they might become the subject of similar contention at almost any time and without much warning. That’s the point I’m making. If you put your mind to it I think you could come up with some examples of issues which could easily become hotly contested in the next round of ‘culture wars’ even if they aren’t now, and I don’t think it affects the point whether they’re the same issues that came to my mind or different ones (or some of both).

  4. The well off oligarchic elite may appeal to ‘real Australians’ but do the large majority of such – no not the confected fake ‘people with moderately bigoted views about others, who want a free pass for this’ – find anything appealing in what the elite are offering? I think not, and so onto another culture war, the political and business class vs the people, not mentioned above that is not going away anytime soon:

    Politics and the population question during the pandemic
    Drawing on the July 2021 TAPRI survey
    Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell
    tapri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/TAPRI-survey-Oct-2021-final-V3.pdf

    …The context was intriguing. Over the period March 2020 to July 2021 there had been no net
    migration to speak of. So those interest groups who wanted to see immigration come back to
    its pre-pandemic levels of around NOM of 240,000 a year, have had ample opportunity to
    present their case. (NOM has been running at around 240,000 a year for most of the last
    decade, accounting for the greater part of Australia’s population growth. Numbers as high as
    240,000 per year or more represent the Big Australia scenario.)

    Major business groups, the property industry and the overseas student industry (among
    others) did indeed present their case. They were strongly supported in this by the Coalition
    Government, which made it clear that it would indeed return to former levels of NOM once
    the pandemic was under control.
    This situation sets up a natural experiment. Do voters want the Big Australia policy back after
    they have had experience of over a year without it? Have advocates persuaded them that a
    return to high rates of population growth is desirable?

    …There has been a distinct hardening of attitudes towards immigration. Before the pandemic
    there was a rough balance between the share of voters wanting the current numbers to remain
    the same or to increase and those wanting them to decrease. But as of July 2021, only a small
    minority want Big Australia levels restored. The majority do not.

    Attention politicians: Australians don’t want high immigration
    By Unconventional Economist in Australian Politics, Immigration, October 14, 2021
    https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2021/10/attention-politicians-aussies-dont-want-high-immigration/

    LVO destroys Perrottet’s immigration madness on Bolt Report
    By Unconventional Economist in Australian Politics, Immigration, October 15, 2021
    https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2021/10/lvo-destroys-perrottets-immigration-madness-on-bolt-report/

    Amazing to see Bolt there going against the oligarchic business elites’ appeals.

    IA: Immigration needed to build infrastructure for migrants
    By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy, Immigration, October 15, 2021
    macrobusiness.com.au/2021/10/ia-immigration-needed-to-build-infrastructure-for-migrants/

  5. On the flicker of hope on the end of climate change denialism – I’m not sure the easing up of a relentless campaign of fraud and trolling counts as a victory. They haven’t expressed any remorse or admitted culpability, or promised they won’t turn it on again.
    So they are realising that accelerating towards a cliff isn’t a good look with the current US and UK leadership, but they haven’t actually taken the foot off the accelerator – just signalling that they might have to undertake to start thinking about it in the next decade. Could the bar be set any lower?

  6. Believe it or not, there is at least one thing to admire about Australia’s immigration policies.*

    If a society isn’t planning to treat people well, better to be clear about this ahead of time. One might argue that this means that fewer people suffer due to immigration.

    I often feel that in the US, most people just ignore the entire matter of illegal immigration – and often, the immigrants themselves are not treated well. (That is, there is a lot of talk about it – but no one does anything much, either way.)

    And they often go though utter horrors to get here, on the mistaken impression that getting here means something in itself. Frankly, I find our non-policy policies to be regrettable. And with our political dysfunctionality, I don’t see progress in the near term.

    *Please note: I only know a very small amount about such policies. This is only because of my human limits of time and energy. Australia sounds like a very interesting place.

    Just my two cents. Things could be worse.

  7. Oh, also. Far be it from me to claim any type of spiritual wisdom, but, is it really so clear what Jesus would think about immigration? That is, one can distinguish between a policy and the issue of how individuals are treated. One can be as liberal as the day is long, and still want to have some type of a system. I know bc I am such a person.

    Though, perhaps my experiences here are too different to be relevant to Australians? Could be. It rather sounds like you-all enjoy much more of an orderly system than we have. You can actually decide whether or not to turn the tap on or off.

  8. At least one conservative is calling out bat $**! Crazy republicans re culture wars.

    Fun new anti culture war game: “the most hair-on-fire culture war suggestion.”, producing a ranking of culture war-iness vs peace & sensibility. This ranking is, like the twitter blue tick, assigned to all for a quick culture war vs peace usefullness. Avoid or not as required.

    “Conservative Pundit Torches ‘Absolutely Bats**t Crazy’ Republicans In Texas

    “Charlie Sykes slammed Texas, Florida and Arizona Republicans for competing in “the most hair-on-fire culture war games.”

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/conservative-pundit-charlie-sykes-maga-competition_n_616a785be4b00cb3cbd32b6c

  9. Agree with JQ on this.

    And, it’s still possible that the crazy right wingers will push back on social justice issues in the future- so vigilance is always required.

    Just look at the Texas Republicans and the abortion law changes to oppress women.

    Culture warriors will advance their agenda whenever they can.

  10. The targets may change, but not the mentality. The mindset is best represented by the new NSW Premier…as ever, denialistic and deluded, aggressive, defensive, myopic and and intolerant, Also folk like Dutton, Joyce Morrison and Cash.

    They wont go to redundant shibboleths for this election, but there will be the usual combination of face-changing for themselves and innuendo and false witness against those they perceive as obstacles, like critical thinkers, scientists and those who advocate rational family planning.

    Such views have no place in a template dominated by religious superstition, malice towards the defenceless (ROBOdebt) and greed inspiring false consciousness, because the mentality is always the one that unthinkingly murders the goose that lays the golden egg with always, no payoff because of the false premises that hide honesty from those infected of it.

  11. With refugees as an example, there is always an element of red herring involved. The real aim of the hard right is to play off refugees against the local un or underemployed, the system always seeks a diversionary rat race at the bottom to secure its own position

    In a rational international economy there would be no refugees and employment opportunity for all, based on a rational rather than subjective employ of an economy.

    Object lesson, Frydenburg and the $40 billion glad handed to proprietors and bosses, of which not doubt some has found its way into numbered accounts rather than job creation.

  12. “The big exception to all of this is the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. As elsewhere it’s been a potent issue for the culture war right and one on which they have generally been successful. ”

    There is a political consensus on refugee issues not a divisive left/right split. Both sides of politics have supported offshore processing after Paul Keating introduced mandatory detention for “unlawful arrivals” in 1992. Offshore processing and a hardline on “illegal entrants” is hardly a victory for the right wing in a culture wars debate. It has almost always been Labor policy too.

    The policy has been effective and worked too except for the time Kevin Rudd relaxed the Pacific Solution when there were 5,000 boat arrivals in 50 days and numerous deaths at sea. Rudd reversed his decision – a reversal completed by Julia Gillard.

    The policy amounts to having immigrant and refugee intake quotas and sticking with them. As an “open door” policy will not work with immigrants or asylum seekers we need to insist that applications be made and that levels of entry be offered to preferred applicants.

  13. Culture wars, war on terror, war on drugs, ….

    It seems to me “culture wars”, like wars on terror and war on drugs, will end when people stop using these phrases.

    At best such phrases mark episodes of ongoing social change with complex dynamics (time intervals that look stable from the perspective of observers, followed by turmoil – demands for change and resistance involving verbal fights or worse). Dynamic processes regarding social norms make it not easy, IMHO, to know what is ‘progressive’. Does it not depend on what is an observer’s preferred social norm? To illustrate what I have in mind, lets take a period, labelled neoliberalism, which has been extensively discussed on this blog-site. At the beginning of this period (an open time interval) the term neoliberalism was neither announced nor talked about. Only after a sequence of social changes (institutional and policy changes) had happened did observers give it a name. Social change had taken place. Is it therefore progressive? It depends on the reference period, IMHO. Those who wanted it, I assume, would call it progressive, relative to the preceding period. Others recognise ideas from a period that preceded the preceding period. Regressive? While perfect recycling of ideas (history repeating itself) may not happen, that which does happen is not perfectly new either. So what is being progressive?

  14. Animal rights is a culture war issue that seems to finally have come between an old friend and I. As a farmer its a hot button issue for him and he has recently been radicalised by Facebook . Its interesting how the Right finds a trigger issue with some people ,they only need a single one that is emotive enough, and down the rabbit hole they go .Then they are exposed to the full suite of issues and end up voting contrary to their own long term welfare . Otherwise ,in reality ,my friend would be a potential Green voter – he is a bio-dynamic dairy farmer .Seen as a manly pursuit, the love and promotion of meat eating has a long history on the Right (Hitler being an exception ). Maybe this will be a culture war issue of increasing prominence as others drop away.

  15. What is being progressive?

    “In the 21st century, progressives continue to favour public policy that reduces or ameliorates the harmful effects of economic inequality as well as systemic discrimination such as institutional racism; to advocate for environmentally conscious policies as well as for social safety nets and workers’ rights; and to oppose the negative externalities inflicted on the environment and society by monopolies or corporate influence on the democratic process. The unifying theme is to call attention to the negative impacts of current institutions or ways of doing things and to advocate for social progress, i.e. for positive change as defined by any of several standards such as expansion of democracy, increased egalitarianism in the form of economic and social equality as well as improved well being of a population. Proponents of social democracy have identified themselves as promoting the progressive cause.” – Wikipedia.

    I think the above is a pretty good definition. At a more basic level, I think it means progressively extending, to more and more people, rights, privileges and opportunities which originally were the special preserve of only a few.

  16. @Harry Clarke. Either having an “open door policy” vs detaining people for many years on Pacific islands, is a false dichotomy. The might of Australia’s resources can manage turning back small wooden boats, which is bipartisan policy. Keeping those we have detained seemingly indefinitely, to me is unnecessary cruelty. If Labor seeks to soften this approach however, then this could be used as a handy wedge by the LNP. E.g. I clearly remember Howard bellowing in parliament: “Labor is a weak on border protection!”. Since then I have often heard the assertion from Government ministers that any more compassionate treatment of detained asylum seekers will result in “restarting the boats!”

  17. @David Smith, If you weaken the restrictive policy you necessarily reduce the costs of making an attempt to get here by unofficial means and encourage queue-jumping. The sensitivity of unofficial flows to weakening the policy was made abundantly clear during the Rudd years when a weakening led to thousands more attempted boat entries and thousands of deaths at sea. It was the reason Labor reverted to the tough policies of Keating.

    We don’t “detain” people indefinitely. Endless rights of appeal are exercised by asylum seekers and this develops into long stays. What you will say is that they shouldn’t be detained for long periods and (I assume) you are one of those lovvies who will not want to give them a paid ticket home with financial support (current policy) so you must necessarily eventually after all their appeals are turned down, residency.

    What I find feeble about this policy is the scant weight placed on the welfare of asylum seekers who do legally apply for entry but who are displaced 1-1 by the unofficial entrants who are given the sole weight in any welfare ranking. The refugee and humanitarian quotas do bind so these people are cut out – many good people who are cut out simply because there is a quota and others are ranked more highly.

    Immigration and refugee policy is tough. Not everyone who seeks to come to Australia will. We have (as do all other countries) quota-based policies. Instead of whimpering about “unnecessary cruelty” and “small wooden boats” you might try to think these tough policy decisions through more carefully.

  18. Thanks for your reply Harry Clarke. As you advise me to, I actually do “try to think … these tough policy decisions … carefully.” I did not suggest returning to the system that resulted in all of those arrivals in the Rudd period. I support the “well advertised” practice of turning boats back which deters virtually all from making the hopeless attempt.
    I believe that on balance there would be more good than harm in ending the stalemate situation of the relatively small number of asylum seekers currently at hand. I see no danger in this proposal. E.g. give them whatever visa (the Minister can invent a new category if necessary) required to allow them to have a decent life in Australia, even if not “permanent” by title. I certainly don’t believe that such action would result in Border Force being overwhelmed by boats.
    Of course as you say, generally it is correct that for every one “queue jumper” accepted, one “in the queue” is declined or at least delayed. However this is a political choice and if we cleared those currently in limbo over a manageable time frame, then an exception could be made in this instance so that no others are disadvantaged. The numbers are small, effectively being a rounding error compared to the many tens of thousands of immigrants we accept annually (other than during a pandemic). Henceforth, if we continue to turn any asylum seeker boats back, no more will arrive!

  19. David Smith, if only it were “many tens of thousands of immigrants we accept annually”.

    However, you are only out by orders of magnitude! Instead the official NOM number over and above the shady temporary-but-in-fact-permanent-multitudes has averaged 240,000 p.a. and post the coming election that is to be doubled! Do we, that is we “the people”, accept this or is it thrust upon us by the machinations of the four largest parties pandering to Treasury’s lazy GDP fix and their big business donors’ desires for boosted massive private profits whilst they socialise the massive costs? When did we ever have a say? When were we asked if we were happy to accept such mega numbers as are thrust upon us?

  20. Harry & Svante, what should we do with this ONE human on, as Harry says, a “long stay”? Or try an answer for the Biloelia family.

    “Court orders mute asylum seeker detained in Australia be released into community or moved to Nauru

    “Prolonged detention in Australia was contributing to poor mental health and it was clear man preferred liberty in Nauru, judge said

    “A judge has ordered that a mute asylum seeker who has been detained in Australia for eight years be moved to Nauru or released from detention and allowed to live in a house in Perth pending the transfer.

    “If the man – known as AZC20 in court documents – is ultimately transferred to Nauru he would be the first person sent offshore by Australia in more than seven years.

    “AZC20, an engineer who fled Iran seeking protection in Australia, has been shunted between detention centres.

    “The indefinite nature of his detention has damaged his mental health, the federal court has heard. In a judgment delivered late last week, justice Darryl Rangiah noted AZC20’s “chronic demoralisation” and said the “unchallenged evidence is clear that ongoing and prolonged detention in the environment of detention centres is contributing to the applicant’s poor state of mental health”.

    “After a suicide attempt in 2015, AZC20 was left unable to speak, the court heard. He has been diagnosed with psychogenic mutism. All subsequent interviews have been conducted with AZC20 writing answers.

    “Guy Coffey, a clinical psychologist, told the court “there is unequivocal clinical and research evidence that the mental health of people held in immigration detention deteriorates over time [and] exposure to violence hastens that deterioration”.

    “Coffey said AZC20’s mental health would not improve while he remained detained, but that if he was “released into the community and received appropriate psychological treatment his psychological condition would improve”.

    “The judge has ordered AZC20 be moved from the Perth immigration detention centre to Nauru, Australia’s only remaining offshore processing island. Australia’s last transfer of a new asylum seeker to its Nauru offshore processing centre was in September 2014. More than 100 people sent there by Australia remain on the island.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/oct/18/court-orders-mute-asylum-seeker-detained-in-australia-be-released-into-community-or-moved-to-nauru

  21. Harry, “you might try to think these tough policy decisions through more carefully.”

    Queue jumpers get a number, “reverse capital queue jumpers” get ” “Who is Alden? The details are shrouded in secrecy.”

    Capital jumpers- worse than the ‘progressive’ term, “queue capital jumpers but in reverse” with an ok by the queue management . The profit will be reported in the AFR Harry, the social loss in the Guardian.

    As can be seen JQ, culture war & peace is still in the eye of the beholder.
    *

    “The Chicago Tribune is being murdered before our eyes 
    ….
    “If you learned about business from Econ 101 high school civics, this is baffling. How is it good business to buy a profitable business and render it UNprofitable?

    “The short answer is financialization – the end state of capitalism, in which the productive economy is destroyed by the socially useless finance sector.

    “Here’s Alden’s playbook: “Gut the staff, sell the real estate, jack up subscription prices, and wring as much cash as possible out of the enterprise until eventually enough readers cancel their subscriptions that the paper folds.”

    “This is a formula that “can operate its newspapers at a profit for years while turning out a steadily worse product, indifferent to the subscribers it’s alienating,” or, Ken Doctor put it, “It’s the meanness and the elegance of the capitalist marketplace brought to newspapers.”

    “Who is Alden? The details are shrouded in secrecy. They won’t say who their investors are, though, when Congress forced them to put something on the record, they admitted, “there may be certain legal entities and organizational structures formed outside of the US.”

    https://pluralistic.net/2021/10/16/sociopathic-monsters/#all-the-news-thats-fit-to-print

  22. Believe it or not, there is at least one thing to admire about Australia’s immigration policies.

    If a society isn’t planning to treat people well, better to be clear about this ahead of time. …

    I often feel that in the US, …

    I don’t know of any good basis for concluding that this is a point of difference between Australia and the US (that there is some way in which Australia is clear that it isn’t planning to treat people well but the US is not so clear).

    Far be it from me to claim any type of spiritual wisdom, but, is it really so clear what Jesus would think about immigration?

    Of course it’s not clear. There’s almost no subject on which it’s clear what Jesus would think. The surviving texts are not fully consistent. Since I’m not a believer myself, that doesn’t matter to me. But John Howard, and many of his supporters, are/were believers. Probably, if put to the test, they could have found some way of selecting from and interpreting the texts which justified them in thinking that Jesus would have approved of saying ‘We will decide who comes to this country, and the circumstances in which they come’. I would have liked them to be put to the test, that’s all. Go ahead, if you think you can, and produce a justification.

    Since it hasn’t been tested, my opinion can only be a guess, but my guess is that if the test were actually made, a significant number of believers (I mean, among those who supported John Howard’s position; I mean, among those who were/are mostly honest) even if they found a way of reconciling their position, would have experienced moments of self-doubt in doing so, and I think that would have been worth it.

  23. KT2. The Biloelia family are a tragic case but a tragedy forced on Australia by laws which give endless “rights of appeal” on legal decisions concerning asylum seekers with the complicating fact that during their stay in Australia they have had a child. The family have repeatedly been rejected as refugees by tribunals and courts. The cost of such operations financially and to Australia’s reputation (we set up “concentration camps to imprison innocent refugees”, the worst lie) has been huge.

    On the practical grounds on cost I would give this family residency rights and end this fiasco now. They are obviously fine people seeking a better life. But at the same time as doing this I would change the law giving asylum seekers one right of assessment of their status and one right of appeal. If they are rejected they are given a one-way ticket home or to a destination they choose. That’s it. That would offset any moral hazard affect of giving in to the Biloelia family.

    I would seek to put a stop to the endless appeals process and gaming the entry system with photos of cute children, petitions and totally hypocritical bleats from Labor supporters that the LNP are acting without compassion. Specifically end the abuse of the unfortunate immigration minister who has, since at least the time of Al Grassby, somehow been landed one of politics’ most thankless and difficult tasks.

  24. Thanks for your reply Harry. It wrote itself from your prior comments. Très ultilitarian. How will your stance reduce the culture wars? How will your stance be racheted up with say climate refugees. The moral hazard will not go away until a moral and ethical stance and policy formulated. Your grandkids will be having the same or worse moral hazard issues, costs, provatisation pots of cash, unless a better way is found using compassion and diplomacy and preparedness. 

    I understand I am not writing this to or for you Harry. And try to drop lovvies & whimpering. I didn’t write sniggering & hate-ies. 

    And a link to a potential “tough policy decisions through more carefully” from UNICEF. Better to prepare which will lessen pressures feeding culture & war. I’d say that the “tough policy decisions through more carefully” are currrently driving a culture & war, ironically with many fleeing war.

    HC – “Instead of whimpering about “unnecessary cruelty” and “small wooden boats” you might try to think these tough policy decisions through more carefully.” Correct Harry.

    HC –  “you are one of those lovvies who will not want to”… see… 

    “The true cost
    of Australia’s
    refugee policies

    “Six little-known reasons to change
    our response to asylum seekers

    ♢ Offshore processing costs $400,000 per-refugee, per-year

    ♢ Ending ‘open detention’ on Nauru and Manus Island could save $2 billion by 2020

    ♢ The boats haven’t stopped – they’ve been turned away to other dangers

    ♢ ‘Deterrence’ approach has abandoned refugees to their fate 

    ♢ This could be Australia’s most dangerous export

    ♢ There is a better way

    https://www.unicef.org.au/blog/news-and-insights/september-2016/the-true-cost-of-australias-refugee-policies

    [ any more of this KT2 or Harry in the SandPity.]

  25. J-D – the reasons I find Australia’s policies to be more honest than those of my own country are these (note: this is all kind of arm-chair, that is, just my impressions):

    – bipartisan total refusal to even think about having a real employer sanction
    – bipartisan total refusal to ever bother fully funding our immigration courts – does it take years? Yes, and, no one cares.
    – very little attention paid to what happens when someone gets turned down for asylum
    – afaik, very little attempt to bother enforcing tourist visas.

    To me, it seems clear – as a group, we really don’t give much of a bleep. That whole wall-building thing was just entertainment. A real employer sanction would do so much more, and no one cares. Our “conservatives” don’t really seem to care much either – I guess they’re realized it works for them as an issue.

    Cynicism and soft corruption, it seems to me. Employers like it, lefties like it, and the right uses it to win elections.

    The problem with it of course is that there are individuals who are caused extra suffering. I think we are all aware of that. Plus, it lets the elites in the home countries totally off the hook. And, it erodes our rule of law.

    As for the Gospel, I could actually come up with a case. However, out of respect I am not going to do it. There is so much more we should be doing just to get to the point of treating people decently – regardless of the long term outcome – that I just can’t. And to me, being honest is a prerequisite for being good. So that’s why it *seems* to me that you Australians are ahead of us. (I don’t really follow the Howard stuff, but I gather he is a con?)

  26. I think that LNP policies have floundered if not sunk under COVID.

    1. achieving a budget surplus now seems pointless and the benefits of the various safety nets outweigh any disadvantages, if any exist

    2. Similarly, austerity politics has proven to be counter productive

    3. It’s now obvious that a major economic disruption can be absorbed without noticeable damage

    4 therefore climate change policies, while initially disruptive, can be pursued without having to justify for any or every spurious projection of economic loss.

    5 the LNP rejection of quotas for a system of promotion through merit doesn’t compare well to the numerous rorts and pork barrels that they have enthusiastically employed.

  27. And brain, culture and democracy and and… if you dont know who Alan Kay is, look at your GUI – graphic user interface. And The Mother of All Demos linked below.
    *
    “Alan Kay on the context and catalysts of personal computing

    By Devon Zuegel
    41 min read
    Published September 16, 2021

    ALAN: Glad to be here.

    “So now, the Athenians had a browsable version of their laws. You could walk around town and see, oh yeah, here’s this one and here’s that one. Pretty soon, they started noticing that they canceled each other out because what people use these things for was rationalizations and for ways of feeling better. People still do that today. That is the predominant form of human thinking. It hasn’t changed in 100,000 years. Almost all progress that humanity has made, in my opinion, has come from opposing most of our genetic tendencies.

    “I think of civilization as being a set of processes trying to invent things that mediate, deflect, turn away, and modify most of the things that are wrong with our brain. Again, the problem is that we can’t change our brain.. We can only change some of the processes in it through training. Democracy is one of these things. It has an idea lurking in it that is still one of the hardest ideas for people to learn, which is the idea of equal rights. This is very hard to teach and most people don’t believe it for a second.

    DEVON: A lot of people pay lip service to the idea, for sure. People say that they believe it. What’s the difference between their actions and their statements?

    ALAN: Lip service is just rationalization. The science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein, once said, “We’re not rational animals. We’re rationalizing animals.”

    “We are the animal that made its progress through culture. Our progress has not been through genetics, but being able to do something faster than genetics can do.”

    “Because of that, we have to think of ourselves as intertwined with our cultures. We’ve got a cooperative drive that makes us a social creature. We have a competitive thing that likely comes from being a subsistence animal for most of our genetic heritage. There’s hardly anything that competition really helps.

    “This is one of the biggest problems with many economic systems that can only work through competition. They just can’t do cooperation because cooperation makes it much easier to gain the cooperative systems.”…

    https://www.notion.so/blog/alan-kay

    Watch the mother of all demos;
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mother_of_All_Demos

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Kay

  28. To summarise, as a political argument whataboutery has about as much life as the Norwegian blue parrot.

    The Nationals just might get the drift before they become totally irrelevant.

    The problem for Libs must be, who can we partner with now?

  29. And before I forget, libertarians are looking like a bunch of total losers.

    With Covid, communities that have trust in govt have had higher vaccination rates than those that don’t share that faith.

    When push comes to shove libertarians are antivaxxers. If they say that they aren’t antivaxx then they aren’t true libertarians, just free riders.

  30. Migration rethink: Hike on the cards for post-pandemic recovery
    By Shane Wright and Jennifer Duke October 20, 2021 — 12.01am
    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/migration-rethink-hike-on-the-cards-for-post-pandemic-recovery-20211019-p5916r.html#comments

    99.9% of 439 BTL comments there to date are dead against this proposed mass immigration madness and the ponzi for the elites it is proposed to maintain for such as the wealthy owners of capital and the ‘growth lobby’ cabal of Big Property, Big Retail, Big Banking and the edu-migration industry.

    Josh Frydenberg revs mass immigration engine
    By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy, Immigration
    at 12:00 pm on October 20, 2021 | 21 comments
    macrobusiness.com.au/2021/10/josh-frydenberg-revs-mass-immigration-engine/

    See: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2021/10/josh-frydenberg-revs-mass-immigration-engine/#comment-4192752 … re fact check and fail of Recessionberg’s only objective statement made amidst his blather and spin https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/migration-australia/latest-release

  31. J-D – the reasons I find Australia’s policies to be more honest than those of my own country are these (note: this is all kind of arm-chair, that is, just my impressions):

    – bipartisan total refusal to even think about having a real employer sanction
    – bipartisan total refusal to ever bother fully funding our immigration courts – does it take years? Yes, and, no one cares.
    – very little attention paid to what happens when someone gets turned down for asylum
    – afaik, very little attempt to bother enforcing tourist visas.

    And to me, being honest is a prerequisite for being good. So that’s why it *seems* to me that you Australians are ahead of us. (I don’t really follow the Howard stuff, but I gather he is a con?)

    By a convenient coincidence, mention of John Howard and honesty provides an illustration of the kind of ‘impression’ it is unwise to rely on.

    John Howard was Prime Minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007, and the government he led (and he himself) had a significant share of responsibility for current Australian immigration law and policy; it was in that context I mentioned his use of the sentence ‘We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come’. He was also referred to from time to time as ‘Honest John’. There are varying stories about how he acquired this nickname, but people with long memories seem to be sure that it was originally applied as an ironical way of sending the same message as the more straightforward newspaper headline ‘Liar Liar’. However, the nickname kept being used long after most if not all people had forgotten the original context, so in later years it would have been easy for people to get the impression that he had a reputation for honesty unusual in a politician and so for him to build up an actual reputation of that kind, not one that he deserved if you ask me.

    If I said to somebody, ‘There are big differences in immigration policy between the US and Australia: in the use of employer sanctions; in funding of immigration courts; in the attention paid to what happens to people turned down for asylum; in enforcement of tourist visa’, then the other person might well say to me, ‘That’s interesting; I didn’t know that; how did you find out about it?’ If I answered, ‘That’s what I read in an anonymous comment on a blog’, then the other person might well say to me, ‘That’s not a good basis for drawing conclusions’, and that other person would be right.

    Now, if you don’t want to rely on my word for the things I’ve told you about John Howard, there’s enough in what I’ve written for you to find search terms which you could put into a search engine (I usually use DuckDuckGo myself), and you’d come up with more than one reference. (I did the same myself to check before writing this comment, and if you asked me to save you the trouble of doing your own search and to point to you to sources, I would.) If I wanted to use a search engine to check the things you’ve written about the difference between US and Australian immigration policy, I’d be groping helplessly for suitable search terms.

  32. As for the Gospel, I could actually come up with a case. However, out of respect I am not going to do it.

    I don’t understand what kind of respect you’re referring to. I can’t think of any way it would be disrespectful for you to do this.

  33. …‘Honest John’. There are varying stories about how he acquired this nickname, but people with long memories seem to be sure that it was originally applied as an ironical way of sending the same message as the more straightforward newspaper headline ‘Liar Liar’.

    Brandis a fellow Liberal Party MP of some standing within the party, and iirc at the time a serving Howard government minister, famously called Howard the “lying rodent” and never retracted nor apologised. The name stuck in circulation for some time even though the msm ceased repeating it soon after.

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