Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The left has its nutters

This is not serious political analysis. It's simply drawing your attention to a leftist rant, one which suggests that there exist individuals on the left who are consumed by hatred, paranoia and self-loathing. A commentator named "Earthrise" contributed the following to a left-wing Australian blog:

We have sold our souls for a flat screen TV, paid for with the blood and suffering of innocent brown people. The weight of our bad karma is darkening the sky.

You good people know the feeling after Howard won the 2004 election. Nobody cared that our once beautiful country brutally and illegally invaded a sovereign nation!! I am ashamed to say I am one of the people who considered moving to NZ. Not from disappointment, but out of fear (I have three young girls). Not fear of some pathetic terrorist, but of the creeping fascism in our country, and our people's acquiescence. Part of me wants these people to suffer, my countrypeople. They have betrayed everything that made this country great.

That part of me looks forward to the next Great Depression. For me, the poverty will be a kind of forced seachange. I am already making the adjustments. For the fat, lazy, greedy, apathetic majority, that dark part of me smiles at their coming fall. Then I remember, these are the people who voted for Hitler. To 'save' themselves, they will ride the wolf.

Charming, isn't it? It makes the political rants of Michael Leunig seem positively benign in comparison.

I'm not suggesting that Earthrise best represents the opinions of the mainstream left. But bear rants like this in mind when the left portrays itself as the caring, non-hating side of politics, or when a leftist media singles out figures on the right as extremists. The left is a little too smug about itself when categorising things this way.


  1. There are nutters on the left and the right - everyone knows that, so there's no real revelation here.

    In every politcal party, the activists and grassroots members are all bonkers and the leadership has to broker a deal between them and common sense. It was ever thus, and in these days of declining membership of politcal parties, it it's only the proper nutters who are sticking around.

    But I digress: the post on which you choose to pick is not the best piece of writing I ever read and yes the tone verges on the hysterical, but I remind you that there are a goodly number of more articulate people with a greater talent for words who agree with the authors', and have expressed these sentiments successfully and persuasively in other places.

    I am tempted to agree that Australia has become the worst kind of rathole: an absolute warren of backwardness and human stupidity. About all it's got going for it is the weather, and I understand from speaking with my friends who still live there that even that's gone up the spout of late.

    It's posts like yours that make my gladness to be elsewhere border on the smug.

  2. Anonymous, I agree that there are nutters on the right too, it's just that the left-wing ones tend to get overlooked more.

    I'd agree with you too in thinking all is not well with modern Australia. However, I expect that what we see as the problem differs.

    For instance, I don't think the problem is that Australia is backward, but rather the kind of "modernity" being pursued in Australia.

    As for the specifics of Earthrise's comment, I doubt if anyone, however articulate, could really justify:

    1) The claim that we are wealthy because of the suffering of brown people. This is simply a vilification of whites. In general, Western countries have prospered materially because all classes work hard, there is stable governance, and because capitalism (whatever its faults) has proved to be economically dynamic.

    2) The claim that Howard represents a "creeping fascism" is absurd. Some people on the left are stuck in the 1930s. The Liberal Party is exactly what the name suggests, a right-wing liberal party, pursuing a free-market, individual autonomy philosophy.

    For reasons I've explained at length at this site, I don't agree with this philosophy. It sounds good, but, taken seriously, it generates unintended, socially destructive outcomes.

    But this will never be properly understood if the left lazily expresses its displeasure by resorting to the "Hitler" taunt.

    3) Earthrise is disloyal to her own countrymen. She imagines them ready to support Hitler; she calls them fat, lazy and greedy; and she admits she wants them to suffer in a Great Depression.

    Even if you don't think your country is heading the right way, I don't think you would make such comments if you had a natural sense of affinity to your own tradition.

    So perhaps the problem is not that Earthrise lacks the necessary eloquence to put her case, but that she herself is excessively denatured.

  3. Since when did left-liberals become reactionaries?

    The theme that we're "becoming bad" is simply odd. This suggests that we used to be "good" from their perspective.

    "Once beautiful country"...."They have betrayed everything that made this country great".

    When was this golden age? Surely they don't mean the Australian dark ages of self sufficiency, actually having a culture and kids reading Shakespeare by year 7.

    One would think that an appeal to the past isn't a philosophically viable option. The past, in all the West, was a time of tradition, insularity and strict morality.

    Australia is becoming "international". The population is rapidly becoming one of the most multi-ethnic in the world. We've "opened up" from our protectionist past. School curriculums put the young white devils in their historically oppressive places. We don't go to church in large numbers. Art and architecture has finally overcome the "restraints" of taste. We're more socially "free" than we've ever been.

    Yet from the liberal perspective, it's "worse than it has ever been", "we've got to get out" and the proles they led for the last 30 years deserve great wrath - complete with transplanted Hollywood narrative about the darn "rednecks".

    In the grand scheme of things, the proliferation of flat screen TVs and nosey foreign interventions is a small price to pay.

    It saddens me that they're not enjoying it while it lasts. This is as good as it gets for liberals and they don't even realise it.

  4. Shane, an incisive comment.

    BTW, there's an interesting account at View from the Right of someone revisiting Sweden after a long absence & reflecting on the changes wrought by liberalism on a once more traditional society.