On 15 June the world celebrates the 800th anniversary of an event which, as Daniel Hannan rightly says, is one of ‘planetary significance’: the adoption of the Magna Carta. Today, few Australian students, even in our law schools, would be able to explain how crucial this is to modern Australia. Sadly , they would be unaware of that golden thread which comes to us from the mists of Anglo-Saxon times, through the Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution, the settlement in 1788 and the Australian peoples’ decision to form our ‘indissoluble Federal Commonwealth…. under the Crown’.
A golden thread that explains why the family of English-speaking peoples has been so extraordinarily successful; why Bermuda is unlike Haiti, Singapore unlike Indonesia and Australia unlike Argentina.
At federation Australia and Argentina were among the wealthiest countries in the world. Australia remains a wealthy and successful democracy, playing a significant role in world affairs. Argentina is now politically unstable and impoverished. The last dictatorship, brought to an end by the Falklands War, was responsible for the murder of thousands of people. Argentina has defaulted eight times on international loans, and has played no significant role in world affairs.
In 2002 a former Argentine minister, Professor Jorge Castro, told the ABC that although our two countries were similar there was one important difference: ‘Australia has British institutions.’ He added that if Argentina could acquire them she would be like Australia in 10 or 20 years.
He was right. There was a time when many Australians said the reason for our success was genetic, something that only white Anglo-Saxons could achieve. Others thought it was just our natural resources. It is now being realised more and more that the success of nations depends on their having sound institutions supported by strong values and traditions. The institutions of the Anglosphere were not designed nor planned by omniscient political philosophers; they are the result of hard earned historical experience. Knowledge of this should ensure that the informed do not foolishly put their faith in some political prophet.
That experience has taught us that a government of laws and not of men is the ideal. It has also taught us the dangers of absolute power, and the importance of the freedom of man to contract and to enjoy the benefits of private property. This has been the glory of the English-speaking people.
For hundreds of years, and especially from the Glorious Revolution of 1688, most of the world has lived under the antithesis of Anglosphere principles. From Louis XIV, through Napoleon and down to the appallingly evil regimes of Stalin, Hitler and Mao Tse-tung, our way of life has been challenged. Indeed in the period 1939 to 1941 there were many in the world who believed that it was inevitable that Britain and the Commonwealth would be defeated, and the world would be ruled by Nazi-Soviet alliance, with the neutral US isolated and endangered.
The threat to our way of life continued during the cold war, and continues today. Older Australians know precisely why they have to resist this. They understand how our unique institutions evolved. The problem today is that the young and the new are being denied this knowledge and understanding. It is a curious fact that just as the Soviet empire collapsed, proponents of a related alien philosophy were being extraordinary successful in their long march through our institutions. We have only to recall the series of fashionable beliefs they seek to impose. Take for example the dogma that governments can lower the temperature in a period of allegedly extremely dangerous man-made global warming. If these issues were merely held by a coterie of eccentrics it wouldn’t matter. But through their influence in the media, education, the bureaucracy and much of the political class they are wreaking havoc. Their successes are extraordinary; even under a coalition government we are pouring $20 billion down the drain on a renewable energy target.
The principal weapon of the elites is education. They deny young Australians any knowledge of the origins and crucial import of their basic institutions, the ones which make the country work so well and especially the golden thread which comes through the Magna Carta. Having unconstitutionally moved to control the nation’s schools, Canberra announced in 2010 that three themes would underlie every subject in the national curriculum: indigenous affairs, Asia and sustainability. The latter is of course code for ramming down the throats of the young global warming propaganda. There would of course be absolutely nothing about teaching the true worth of our institutions and how they have made Australia the nation it is.
While the present government has moved away from this, the lessons flowing down through the Magna Carta are still being lost to the young. They do not understand why they must resist the increasing power and control of political parties, the attacks on private property, the moving of the pendulum in the criminal justice system away from the protection of the victim, and the proposition that the politicians know best and can solve all problems with our money.
Fortunately, the elites have not always been successful with their propaganda. As Matthew Bendall reveals in his magnificent book Anzac and its enemies, they argue that the Anzac legend is a reactionary mythology that justifies the class gender and racial oppression that they claim is tearing Australian society apart. The young fortunately don’t wear this. Another failure was the brainwashing undertaken for years to make all children believe that we must abandon our crowned republic. Instead, the young now rival the elderly in their support for the constitutional monarchy.
These two victories are important but were achieved against the odds. It is still the clear intention of the elites to suppress all knowledge concerning the true foundation of Australia and of its institutions, and to use all methods to suppress opposition, as we have seen recently at the Universities of Western Australia and Sydney. Those who treasure the essence of what is our free and democratic Australia have a moral obligation to speak out and ensure the young understand just what is central to the Australian story.
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