Australia is becoming a mock democracy; a demockracy. It is observable on a daily basis as some politicians, journalists and academics mouth their repurposed Orwellian language of control. Truth cleansing is rife. Democratic principles are no longer fixed; they are seen as fluid as gender in some quarters, just as journalistic principles need no longer be bound by objectivity and facts.
My formative years were lived in Stalinist Hungary after the war. People were afraid to speak openly unless it was aligned with Stalin’s Communist Party ideology. That is the logical conclusion of political correctness. Fear and intimidation ruled daily life. State-controlled media was the only permitted voice and it spoke with the voice of the party. If state media said the streets of America and Britain were awash with sewage that was unquestionable.
I would hear my family talk (quietly) about friends who lost jobs because of perceived party disloyalty, careers ended after repeating a satirical political joke. In an era of summary arrests and torture, it was the black humour of the times that provided temporary psychological escape: “A: You know comrade, Stalin is our friend. B: Thank goodness, imagine if he were our oppressor…”
My family knew of people sent to be re-educated when suspected of Western (democratic) sympathies. I am sure you know all this. Betrayal of the party, betrayal of the party manifesto, enemy of the people, lapdog of the corrupt West … That is the lexicon of intolerance, bullying and undemocratic authority.
It is with profound sadness and deep discomfort that I find today’s Australia generating frequent flashbacks.
If you think I exaggerate, look at the photographer who had to shut up shop the other day after photographing Marxist activist Roz Ward bullying a Trump supporter. The vitriolic and physically aggressive response against him is straight out of 1950s Budapest (which is where I am as I write.) Just so you understand, what I refer to is the leftist mob punishment meted out to the photographer. The vehemence of the bullying against his recording of an event that (even if inadvertently) exposes the ‘party’ hypocrisy is another loud warning: when will the angry mob threaten his home, his family, as some have threatened Bill Leak’s, for one?
I haven’t heard of any physical threats against Ward by anyone identified from the centre right. Nor should there be. But certainly in a democracy there should be the strongest condemnation of her expressed by both the left as well as the right – and some restitution attempted to rehabilitate – am I really writing this word in this context about Australia? – the photographer. Failure to do these things will further weaken our democracy. Ward and others who wittingly (or unwittingly out of ignorance) abuse and mistreat democracy are chipping away rather heftily at your freedoms. They are mocking the only form of government that allows me to say these things without – so far – being taken away and locked up for the crime of threatening state security and stability. But if these forces ever gain power, anyone accused of racism or homophobia, say, will not be safe. Will I be vilified, and worse, as a reactionary? Will my livelihood and safety be under threat? And if you think that is alarmist, you forget history.
The name-calling is just the start. That’s where it always starts. Bill Shorten calling Cory Bernardi a homophobe during a doorstop with media, because Bernardi is opposed to same-sex marriage. Immigration Minister Dutton is denounced (another frightening word) as racist because he talks about the need to heed the history of past immigration mistakes, which is characterised as smearing all Lebanese, despite his very ardent defence of the innocent Lebanese majority.
Bernardi and Dutton are parliamentarians; imagine how less protected citizens fare. Like that photographer …
There is scant protection from mainstream media. Fact-fluidity is being introduced into professional journalism like a virus, direct from the University of Columbia’s Journalism Review, which is distributed in Australia to the profession by the Arts and Media Alliance, ‘trendy successor to the old Australian Journalists’ Association’, according to The Spectator’s Hal P.G. Colebatch.
Colebatch says: “The article is sub-titled ‘Media in the Age of Trump’ which seems to give Trump stature of transcendent importance.
It continues: ‘Regardless of what happens on Election Day (November 8, 2016), dark clouds are gathering in politics. But above the storm, blue skies are visible in the media world. Trump’s effect could well be, if journalists wholeheartedly seize the opportunity, a liberation.
‘Who could have guessed that Trump would come to embody a ray of hope and a new dawn for journalism? Yet here he is, offering everyone working in the media a new objectivity, a chance to throw off the shackles that made Trump possible.
‘Objectivity.’ it continues, ‘is always in flux.’ In fact, of course, the point about objectivity is that it is not in flux. It deals with unchanging facts.”
It argues that because of Donald Trump, journalists are now free from the shackles of truth and facts – they can be unobjective, biased, liars. The author of this piece of New Stupidity is Lee Siegel. It doesn’t have to make sense; it just has to be radical enough to give a warm and fuzzy feeling to his fellow ideologues.
For demockrats, the manipulation of public discourse is the equivalent of the propaganda spewed out by old Communists and all authoritarian states; propaganda to soften up the proletariat by demonising the bourgeoisie and acclaiming the party as the friend of the average citizen. We know that is a lie by the actions of that cohort.
Fear for Australia that our political consciousness is not learning from history. This battle for control over citizens’ thinking and political attitudes is taking place just below the surface for most people; it’s not a barbeque stopper. It is taking place – most frighteningly – in schools and unquestioning universities. They represent the deadly submarines of political engineering that is releasing the noxious poison of anti-democratic fumes which will – without the gasmask of vigilance – cause the extinguishing of freedom.
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