All around us, we are seeing the cultural lights of Western civilisation flickering, if not being dimmed or even switched off altogether. Whereas the Age of Enlightenment was a period in which intellectual and philosophical thought and reason flourished, three centuries later we appear to be heading down an increasingly gloomier path into a foreboding future.
Running through a list of Enlightenment values is a depressing experience, as we realise that today’s post-modern, neo-Marxist so-called ‘progressive’ culture, laced as it is with a dash of Mohammedan medievalism, appears hell-bent on achieving the precise opposite of those original values. Instead of tolerance, we have the frightening intolerance of GetUp!, Antifa, modern ‘feminazis’, the LGBTIQ fundamentalists, leftist students, teachers, and media and their bizarre pandering to the ‘sensitivities’ of Islam. Instead of individual liberty we have the suffocating control of bloated government bureaucracies and stifling political correctness. Instead of fraternity, we have ‘diversity’ and the demonising of the white ‘patriarchy’. Instead of the scientific method and reductionism, we have climate change’s sinister quartet of ‘sacrifice’, ‘belief’, fake data and alarmism. Instead of biology, we have ‘gender fluidity’. Instead of reason we have ‘feelings’ and ‘compassion’.
Inquiring minds have been replaced by politically correct ones. The simplicity of neo-classicism and its ability to learn the timeless truths of the past has been replaced by the faddish grotesqueries of post-modern art, politically-motivated art (usually in order to win grants or prizes) and identity art (designed to trade off the race or sexuality of the artist). Free speech has been re-labelled and re-packaged as ‘hate’ speech. Freedom of expression has been reduced to the ubiquitous and increasingly fascistic rainbow motif, designed to intimidate businesses, corporations and bureaucracies alike.
This week, although writing on very different topics, a number of our contributors have felt impelled to confront this encroaching Endarkenment. Michael Buhagiar draws on Spengler’s The Decline of the West to amusingly ponder how the Aztecs would have fared had they been a tad more politically correct. In the wake of ASIO boss Duncan Lewis’s oddball comment this week that jihad is a product of Australian culture (see below), Hal G.P. Colebatch’s sorry tale of our cult of multiculturalism is particularly pertinent. Bella d’Abrera gets to the nub of the matter with her article on her recent IPA report exposing the woeful teaching of history in our universities. And David Flint doesn’t pull any punches on the neo-Marxist agenda behind gender ideology and the same-sex marriage fandango.
Yet in some ways, most depressing of all is the lack of conservative political leadership in solid defence of our culturally enlightened values and heritage. It is inconceivable that were he still prime minister, John Howard would have offered the cowardly silence of Malcolm Turnbull in the face of the culture wars. Indeed, during the last election, both Mr Turnbull and Mr Howard were asked about the insidious Safe Schools programme. Mr Howard didn’t miss a beat: ‘I’d toss it in the bin.’ Mr Turnbull, however, resorted to his customary long-winded waffle. And so the Left carry on relentlessly marching down the gloomy corridors and classrooms of our post-modern cultural institutions.
Yes, Mr Turnbull has spoken out in defence of Australia Day and statues commemorating our colonial heritage. Good. But on the relentless push to divide Australians along tribal lines of race, gender and cultural identity he, his chief advisers and his ‘bed-wetting’ Cabinet are themselves in it up to their green-tinged eyeballs. The damage being inflicted will be hard to reverse.
But ultimately, individuals will prevail. The collectivist mindset, which has inflicted such damage onto human beings over the last century, is inherently flawed and will always collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. In the gloom, the Australian larrikin spirit will stir again.
In comments even loopier than usual, ASIO boss Duncan Lewis suggests that Aussie jihadists are the product of our culture. Perhaps he could clarify. Was it the blackness of Vegemite that inspired the blackness of their hearts? Or the classic redback on the dunny seat that inspired their love of death? Did a kangaroo’s pouch inspire the design of the suicide vest? Or maybe these fair dinkum Aussies simply watched one too many New Years Eve fireworks displays.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues