Features Australia

Conserve what?

20 January 2018

9:00 AM

20 January 2018

9:00 AM

If, like me, you are a small government, strong borders and national defence, lots of free speech and as little political correctness as possible kind of person then let me ask you this. What is it about today’s Australia that you would like to conserve?

Bear that question in mind but before you try to answer consider this. The progressive Left pretty much dominates all of our major institutions. They have a choke hold on the universities (trust me, I know first-hand), the media, the entertainment industry, the HR departments of virtually all big companies (plus a good many CEOs), and even most of the churches.

In the US there is plenty of hard data on this because such things as political donations to political parties are public information. So Harvard’s Crimson reported that 96 per cent of political donations by Harvard University’s Arts and Sciences professors went to (wait for it) the Democrats. Even more skewed, 98 per cent of Harvard Law School professors gave to the Democrats. (As an aside, law is now one of the most left-leaning university departments and hence is becoming one of the most lefty professions. The days of Tory lawyers who lean right have given way to today’s ‘social justice warrior’ lefties who are being pumped out of law schools and who seem to believe that the best thing they can do with their lives is to work for the International Criminal Court or some UN body and who instinctively trust unelected judges over elected politicians to make important social policy calls.) The Econ Journal Watch published data of 40 leading US universities that showed donations to Democrats vs Republicans ran at 11.5 to 1 in favour of the former for professors as a whole, and at 33.5 to 1 in history departments.

For Hollywood the Center for Responsive Politics calculated that Obama outraised Romney by 9 to 1. For Silicon Valley, Five Thirty Eight reported that virtually all the raised money went to Hillary save for the money given by Peter Thiel. Okay, how about journalists? You know, that supposedly neutral and balanced crowd who decide what we read and hear, what gets emphasised, what gets ignored and downplayed, and so on. The Center for Public Integrity delineated how 96 per cent of journalists’ contributions went to Clinton. Most of us on the right here would be happy if ‘our’ ABC were only 96 per cent biased towards the Left – it would be a clear improvement – but still that’s a hefty lefty skew.

Of course I can already hear someone shouting that all those figures have been influenced by Trump. ‘It’s not the political right that the universities, media, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the rest hate; it’s just Trump’, goes this sort of response. But it’s wrong. The above data from Crimson covered the years 2011-2014; the data from the CRP was for 2012; and the Econ Journal Watch, the Five Thirty Eight, and the CPI data were all from the fall of 2016, before Trump was in fact President. (Candidate Trump might have had an effect, though surely only a small one given the dates of publication).

These data and plenty more back up my claim that the progressive Left dominates the major institutions in the West.  Sure, the facts are less transparent in Australia than in the US because such things as political donations are not public information. Still, my view is that the bias to the Left is even worse in Australia than in the US. At least in the US in law, my area, there are institutions like the Federalist Society that bolster the case for non-activist and democracy-respecting judges. And in the US the one-sided media has Fox News, and taxpayers don’t fund a behemoth ABC-type broadcaster that still has yet to hire one single, solitary TV presenter or producer with a right of centre pedigree or genealogy. Not one.

So I’d say the progressive Left dominance is even more pronounced here than in the US. But even if I’m wrong, every sentient being knows that it’s only a little less pronounced. So go back to my opening query and ask yourself, ‘what’s worth conserving about any of that if you’re a Hobbesian, small government, free speech guy or gal like me?’. Surely what we righties want is a fair bit of change, not today’s incredibly one-sided status quo.  And some of the change we want has to do with at least slightly evening out the one-sidedness of the ABC and media, of the universities, and of the rest.

Tied to all this is a question of terminology. Are we righties best described as ‘conservatives’? Only with a good deal of qualification is my answer. For a start, the idea that conservatives are just there to slow down the rate of acceptance of all the changes wanted by progressive lefties – and you can read this sort of implicit notion regularly – makes conservatism empty and jejune. What attraction is there in ‘we want it in 30 years but not now’?

Whether you want to conserve some set of institutions is wholly contingent on where you happen to have been born and with what existing institutions. I doubt anyone outside the wider Kim family wants to conserve anything in North Korea. It depends what you see in the society you’re in. In other words, conservatives also have substantive policy and political preferences and beliefs. If they happen to have a long established pedigree, well that’s just lucky for them really.  So I want to live in a society with lots of free speech. Australia has a good deal, but has backtracked. I have no desire to ‘conserve’ anything about our hate speech laws. They should go and any right of centre party worth anything should be going to the wall to repeal 18C. Nor do I want to conserve Australia’s century-old labour relations regime with third party pseudo-administrative involvement. Nor do I like the power of our upper house Senate.  Significant pruning is in order there. I do, though, think the constitutional monarchy is a least bad alternative well worth keeping. Any alternative will be worse. And I highly value old-style judging that does not usurp the power of the elected legislature under wholly bogus notions such as ‘proportionality’ or ‘implied freedoms’.

Want to understand one of the big attractions of Trump? He seems to have understood that far too many supposedly right of centre politicians are perfectly happy with the progressive Left dominating our major institutions and would never be so rude as to actually try to do anything about it. You know, like massively cutting the ABC’s budget or legislating to insist all big current affairs TV shows have two hosts, one from each side of politics. Or that universities have at least a good few righties on their payrolls, maybe even the odd VC here and there. He may be a vulgarian who was never properly house-trained like most of Australia’s current Cabinet, but he gets that what small government, free speech, Hobbesians like me want is change, not more of the same.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments