Wednesday 7 November 2012

Obama's dark victory

Obama’s victory is of monumental importance. The personality cult, and the concomitant likeability factor, which propelled him into the White House the first time around has done the trick again. The movie actor Russell Crowe got it right in his October 21 communiqué to the citizens of the United States: “Villagers, I don’t endorse politicians. Not my thing. However, Obama is the light & the future. Keep going towards the light. Put America first.”

This article can be read in full at the following link:

Thursday 1 November 2012

How the Left Became Anti-Semitic

Robert Wistrich’s latest work, From Ambivalence to Betrayal, defines Zionism as a national liberation movement. Marx pre-dated Zionism but the analytical tools he bequeathed to his ideological successors predisposed them to sneer at the concept of Jewish national self-determination as a petty-bourgeois folly. Consequently, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky all derided Zionism, and yet Wistrich accuses none of these icons of the Old Left of being overtly anti-Semitic: catastrophically wrongheaded, yes; but anti-Semitic, no. Wistrich has far less sympathy for the anti-Zionist Left of today. Its impenitent pro-Palestinian and pro-terrorist stance marks yet another chapter in the longest hatred of all: anti-Semitism.    

The article can be read in full at the following link:

Friday 19 October 2012

Bernard Lewis and the Dangerous Creed of Freedom

In his memoir Notes on a Century, Bernard Lewis observes that it has become “fashionable to assume that everything Western is bad”. Lewis, nonetheless, allows himself to make one “blatantly chauvinistic statement” by claiming that “the quest for knowledge” is a “peculiarly Western feature”. Throughout the past half-millennium, from the time of the earliest European Orientalists, the intellectual curiosity of Western philologists, adventurers and scholars has transcended provincialism, religion, sentiment and compliance. Notes on a Century goes a long way towards explaining why this phenomenon appears to be under threat, dwelling as we do in an era of “intellectual conformism unknown for centuries”.

The article can be read in full at the following link:

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Comandante Catastrophe

Ivan Aristeguieta and five friends, part of the ever-growing Venezuelan Diaspora, drove all the way from Adelaide to Canberra on the weekend in the vain hope of helping to vote out Hugo Chávez. It was not be. El Comandante has secured another term in office by “winning” one million votes more than his rival, Henrique Capriles, although the real figure is anybody’s guess.

The article can be read in full at the following link:

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Hollywood Rebel

Leftist theatre critics used to love David Mamet. The restaging of Glengarry Glen Ross at the London Apollo in 2007 sent the Guardian’s Michael Billington into paroxysms of socialist joy at the “pleasing irony” of “this attack on capitalism finally installed in our theatre’s commercial heartland”. Though careful to note Mamet’s “sneaking regard” for the salesmen portrayed in the play, Billington assured his readers that the real kick in the work sprang from its depiction of “the ugliness of a society that depends on greed and gullibility”. Six months later, Billington was crestfallen after the hitherto leftist Mamet announced a political volte-face.

The article can be read in full at the following link:

Wednesday 12 September 2012

David Marr, headkicker

The commonplace ALP apologist is the political equivalent of a football fan who sports a Collingwood Always sticker on his car window. Every (alleged) boorish act performed by Tony Abbott as an undergraduate provides insight into the man preparing to be our next prime minister, while Julia Gillard’s time in the far-Left Socialist Forum is dismissed as inconsequential. Ditto the Slater & Gordon business. David Marr would agree with them, but his “Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott”, Quarterly Essay 47, represents something more than the work of a Labor hack. There are even a few passages in his portrait of Abbott that could be considered not only fair but almost generous. David Marr is no Labor Party stooge. He is, however, a ruthless, steely-eyed ideologue of the Left.

The article can be read in full at the following link:

Friday 7 September 2012

The Big Bang Theory

Monday 3 September 2012

Modern-day Anti-Semitism and the Campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Dear Protester,

 Allow me to introduce myself. I am a passer-by who gave you the evil eye last week outside an Israeli-owned business in Rundle Mall. I was on my way to a second-hand bookshop; you were banging your drum in support of the Campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). A word bubbled up inside of me, as I frowned in your direction, and that word was “anti-Semite”.

Friday 31 August 2012

How Obama is Fashioning Post-America

Not until the first week of June did it dawn on America’s liberal-leftist mainstream media, which constitutes the virtual entirety of America’s mainstream media with the exception of Fox News and various populist radio stations, that The One might only serve the one term. This is not how the fairy tale was supposed to end. Two Time magazine writers, Mark Halperin and Elizabeth Dias, lashed out at Matt Drudge’s “media freak show” website Drudge Report, accusing it of being a “circus” posting items scornful of “Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and their wives”. Drudge Report had even given prominence to Edward Klein’s “virulently” anti-Obama tome, The Amateur, just when Klein was being “barred from major TV appearances and mostly ignored by the mainstream media”. Anti-Obama polemic apparently has no place in the public domain during an election year.

The article can be read in full at the following link:

Friday 10 August 2012

Freedom Wars

“Everything’s the opposite of what it is, isn’t it?” the songwriter Harry Nilsson mused. I cannot think of a more appropriate way of describing the contrasting views of today’s progressives and conservatives on the issue of freedom of speech.

The article can be read in full at the following link:

Saturday 4 August 2012

The Principled Pragmatist

David Ben-Gurion’s political philosophy, according to Shimon Peres, was surprisingly pragmatic for someone so principled. Ben-Gurion’s capacity for compromise literally put Israel on the map and his facility for honourable compromises goes a long way to explaining the current dynamism of “The Start-Up Nation” despite its location in such a belligerent neighbourhood. He understood the risks of a Jewish state, but not the extent to which Arab leaders (Palestinian and otherwise) would exploit and deceive their own people to pursue rejectionism, a cause made redundant by the 1948–49 Arab-Israeli War.

This article can be read in full at the following link:

Friday 27 July 2012

The Delusions of Modern Progressives

Roger Scruton’s conservative thinking might be labelled “High Toryism for Common People”. While his work has much of its genesis in English traditionalism, Scruton’s 2005 memoir, Gentle Regrets, is hilariously scathing of those who carried its banner in the second half of the twentieth century. This former grammar school boy turned against the Left after witnessing the 1968 student uprising in Paris and the arrival of “institutionalized nihilism”, but found little solace in his subsequent engagement with the British Conservative Party. Horrified at the inanity of upper-class Party stalwarts whose attachment to Tory doctrines in the mid-1970s was less a reasoned exercise than an “inherited disability”, Scruton nevertheless refused to accept Thatcher as the solution to moribund Toryism. Instead of enlisting as an intellectual Conservative, Scruton became a conservative intellectual, a particularly thankless and unpopular vocation in the 1970s.

The article can be read in full at the following link:

Saturday 21 July 2012

Western Civilisation: Superior but Brittle

 On March 7, 1989, thirty-two-year-old Winfried Freudenberg’s makeshift balloon crash landed, securing him the posthumous honour of last person to die escaping across the Berlin Wall. A month before, on the night of February 6, Chris Gueffroy, aged twenty, was shot ten times in the chest while attempting to flee East Berlin in the vicinity of the Britz district canal. All four East German soldiers involved in the murder of Gueffroy were duly presented with a GDR medal and 150 East German marks. What brave souls like Gueffroy and Freudenberg did not know—and, according to perhaps the most important thesis in Niall Ferguson’s Civilization: The West and the Rest, could not know—was that eight or so months later, on the night of November 9, 1989, an opening would miraculously appear in the Wall.
The article can be read in full at the following link:

Thursday 19 July 2012

It's Really about Freedom

The Green movement, contends James Delingpole in Killing the Earth to Save It, is essentially a religion with a “suicidal, mankind-hating, technology-loathing, apocalyptic vision of the world”. Delingpole effortlessly makes the case by simply quoting the words of the true believers themselves, such as naturalist and BBC television personality Chris Packham. When asked by a magazine interviewer what animal he might not mind becoming extinct Packham replied: “Human beings. No question. That’s the only one.” According to Delingpole, for modern-day environmentalists the continuing presence of mankind on Earth can only be “deleterious to the planet’s interests”. In their quest to purge the world of Western industrial civilisation, the so-called science of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) has proved a weapon of great power.
The article can be read in full at the following link:

Saturday 14 July 2012

Deluded Tyrant in the Kremlin

In December 1564, Ivan IV took himself off into exile. From the remoteness of Aleksandrova Sloboda he wrote two letters to officials in Moscow, one announcing his abdication, the other stipulating that he would return to the throne only on condition he be granted absolute power. There were positive aspects to Ivan’s rule, especially in the earlier years, and “Fearsome” rather than “Terrible” might be a better rendering of his popular designation, and yet there is something wretchedly Russian about those obtuse boyars pleading, in the end, for Ivan’s royal restitution. Masha Gessen’s The Man Without a Face and even more so David Satter’s It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway do nothing to disabuse us of the notion that Russia as a whole remains clueless when it comes to addressing the most basic principles of democracy and the rights of the individual.

In August 1999, Boris Yeltsin announced that Vladimir Putin, Head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), was to be the new prime minister of Democratic Russia. Shortly thereafter, contends Gessen, the FSB made Yeltsin an offer he could not refuse. If Yeltsin allowed Putin to replace him as the president of the Russian Federation, Yeltsin could expect to enjoy the full protection of the intelligence service for the rest of his days, along with immunity from prosecution for any transgressions committed during a decade in office. The ailing and politically vulnerable Yeltsin assented. For almost seventy years the Chekists had been the sword and shield of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Now, thanks to the demise of the USSR and Yeltsin’s instinct for self-preservation, a criminal cabal with a lineage dating back to Dzerzhinsky’s Cheka commenced ruling Russia in its own right.

The article can be read in full at the following link:

Sunday 10 June 2012

Mark Steyn's After America

Some Baby Boomers regard Mark Steyn as the social commentator who has most betrayed his generation. But there might be an argument that Steyn, born in 1959, does not properly qualify as a Boomer. He was too young in 1967 to appreciate the celestial significance of the Summer of Love when 100,000 Boomers converged on Haight-Ashbury and ingested vast quantities of psychoactive drugs in search of peace, love and understanding. For Mark Steyn and his immediate contemporaries, John and Yoko’s bed-ins were less about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius than the disturbing tale of two middle-aged poseurs addicted in equal measure to drugs and media attention.

This article can be read in full at the following link:

Friday 27 April 2012

The Personal Costs of Spurning Green Misanthropy

There is a darkly humorous scene in the Wachowskis’ film The Matrix in which the sentient computer program called Agent Smith explains his epiphany about the true nature of human beings:

I’ve realised that you are not actually mammals. Every mammal on the planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment. But you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area ... Human beings are a disease, a cancer of the planet. You are a plague. And we are … the cure. 

In those lines the Wachowski siblings encapsulate, if inadvertently, the raison d’être of Greenpeace. Perhaps this is because the same crypto-Marxist misanthropy that informs The Matrix is at the core of Greenpeace International. In his latest book, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout, Patrick Moore explains that even in Greenpeace’s earliest days there were fantasists who spoke privately of the need for a “religion of the environment where people simply have faith in the gurus”.

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Sunday 22 April 2012

The Labor Sideshow

Shortly after the ALP’s resounding victory in the 2007 federal election, psychologist-activist Steve Biddulph wrote a triumphalist missive for the Sydney Morning Herald assuring us that “Rudd and Gillard are not in power for power’s sake” and that together they would make Australia “a better place for the people in it”. Moreover, the irresistible charm of “Kevin and Julia, as Australia already calls them”, might actually “herald the end of the Liberal Party itself”. According to Biddulph’s scenario, by 2014 federal politics would be a battle between Labor and the Greens, conservative politics having “withered away”. Sideshow: Dumbing Down Democracy is Lindsay Tanner’s take on why the fairytale went wrong.

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Friday 13 April 2012

Tacitus made it up

Review of Christopher B. Krebs, A Most Dangerous Book (W.W. Norton & Company, 2011)

Christopher B. Krebbs, author of A Most Dangerous Book, describes Cornelius Tacitus (56 AD – 117 AD) as the “the leading Roman senator” of his time and “the greatest historian in Latin literature”. Tacitus nevertheless played fast and loose with the truth when it suited him. He wanted to score domestic political points in his Germania by contrasting the treachery of Roman affairs with the simplicity, integrity, courage and freedom of the Germani: “The – often only implicit – antithesis between Imperial Rome and life in Germania pervades the whole of Tacitus’ account.” Trouble was, all those fabulous sociological details about the Germani were bogus. Tacitus simply made it all up, borrowing from standard Roman stereotypes about foreigners.   

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Saturday 7 April 2012

The Psychosis of Millenialism

The customary bookends of human existence are the golden age or paradise of childhood and the private apocalypse that marks every individual’s End of Time. The intervening period, which comprises the balance of our lives, allows us to be productive and responsible adults. For the most part we muddle through life in a matter-of-fact way with our alarm clock switched to what Richard Landes calls Normal Time. In the midst of modernity, says Landes, Normal Time frequently allows for “the bourgeois joys of earned financial success, unpretentious love and family intimacy”. All solid and even worthy attainments, no doubt, but lacking the exhilaration of life experienced on Apocalyptic Time, in which “everything quickens, enlivens, coheres”. Appearing at the most extreme point in Landes’s millennialist continuum are the active cataclysmic agitators with their taste for both “sacred joy” and “sacred violence”, seeking right here and right now both paradise and the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it.

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