Sunday, November 08, 2015

What would you say if you became PM?

When Malcolm Turnbull took over from Tony Abbott as PM, he fronted the media and declared:
This has been a very important, sobering experience today. I am very humbled by it. I am very humbled by the great honour and responsibility that has been given to me today. We need to have in this country, and we will have now, an economic vision, a leadership that explains the great challenges and opportunities that we face.

Describes the way in which we can handle those challenges, seize those opportunities and does so in a manner that the Australian people understand so that we are seeking to persuade rather than seeking to lecture.

This will be a thoroughly Liberal Government. It will be a thoroughly Liberal Government committed to freedom, the individual and the market. It will be focussed on ensuring that in the years ahead, as the world becomes more and more competitive, and greater opportunities arise, we are able to take advantage of that. The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative.

This is a vision of the nation as an economy and of our political leaders as economic managers.

This is too small a view of nation and leadership. It is too limited in scope.

This is true also of Turnbull's commitment to "freedom, the individual and the market". This is misconceived. You don't serve the individual by serving the individual alone. You serve the individual by upholding the institutions and traditions which help form his identity, which inspire his loves and attachments, and which anchor his commitments.

Turnbull is a classical liberal (a right-liberal). A few years ago I wrote a post attempting to explain why classical liberalism doesn't work over time, which I think is worth reading: Can classical liberalism get what it needs?


  1. A nation is NOT an economy. What a materialistic, limited and perverted sense of life.

    The economy serves the material needs of a people. It is merely a part-- the spiritual, cultural continuation of a racial group and its growth is what a nation and its government is supposed to serve.

    Every 'liberal' government in the West ignores its own people in favor of 'the economy'. The economy is not alive!!!

  2. Back in 1944 when Sir Robert Menzies founded the Liberal Party that kind of right-liberal government would have been fine - a government that concentrated on managing the economy without indulging in Utopian social engineering, without interfering in marriage, without pushing a social agenda, without being tempted to attack the liberties enshrined in the English common law and the 1689 Bill of Rights, without experimenting with woolly-minded new educational theories, without trying to micromanage people's lives.

    Unfortunately it's too late for that. What we need now is a conservative government prepared to act aggressively and radically to undo the damage done over the past half century. The Left is now the Establishment and conservatives now have to be the radicals seeking social change - social change to reverse the insanity that is now the status quo.

    1. I agree with the main thrust of your argument here, which is that conservatives can no longer seek to uphold the status quo, given how radically liberal and dissolving of society the status quo is. It's one reason why I am ambivalent about the term conservative, which sometimes is used to describe someone who is simply cautious about change or perhaps even unadventurous. That cannot describe us now as we are, in effect, boldly challenging the state ideology.

    2. It's one reason why I am ambivalent about the term conservative

      I think the term is becoming less and less useful. It's been debased by the neocons. When politicians like David Cameron, the Bush dynasty in the US and Malcolm Turnbull can be described as conservatives it's clear that the term has become absolutely meaningless.

    3. I don't think it's correct to call Cameron or Turnbull a neocon. Perhaps the Bushes. But neocons are the establishment Republicans these days. It is, or was up until the current messy situation, the de facto position or ideology. So the Bushes would be heavily influenced by that either way. This is of course post-Goldwater Republican.

      I tend to use the word Tory to describe what I think proper conservatives are. For example, I'd call Scrutton a Tory, or Old Right.
      I think The Conservative Party in Britain replaced the Tory party, which is why the playful labeling of them as Tory is so incorrect.

      I worried a little that this post was Abbott apologist, because I think 'The Right' need to accept that the bloke was a dickhead and move on. I think you also need to consider that Turnbull focused on the economy because he was trying to emphasise what (little) he has in common with 'The Right', and without looking like he was wrecking or simply slagging Abbott off without any significant foundation. And the majority of politics is framed through economics these days anyway. You just have to suggest your position will increase widget production by 0.5% annually, which shouldn't be too hard with utterly opaque economic models and statistics. I often see Identity Politics/PC packaged as boosts in productivity, or throwing money away at education (Class War) to 'skill-up' the workforce, when in so many ways it has corrupted the system, or at the very least lowered standards massively.
      Now I'm worried I'll come across as a Turnbull apologist!

  3. I consider myself a Catholic reactionary traditionalist, if that's any help.