It is a striking fact, but little acknowledged, that the Left in this country is largely funded by the taxpayer.
How many tradies or owners of businesses do you know who are leftists? How many teachers who are not? Every avenue of the leftist advance leads through an institution or a field of activity for which the taxpayer picks up the wages bill. Schools and universities, the ‘public service’, foreign affairs (see Mark Higgie in The Speccie), the ‘arts’ establishment and of course, those utterly shameless abusers of public money to disseminate leftist propaganda, the ABC and SBS. Even our national airline is not immune, first having actively campaigned for a type of ‘marriage’ that 40 per cent of its passengers opposed, and now having told its staff they must speak of Australia, presumably when satisfying a tourist’s curiosity about our history, as having been not settled but ‘colonised’ or ‘invaded’. Saddest of all for the survival of freedom is the leftward politicisation of the judiciary. Can we still believe that justice is blind? All this keeps going thanks to the taxes of the non-leftist silent – or not so much silent as shouted down – majority,
It follows that if tax-derived funding were reduced or withheld, the Left would be a muted force. That’s the good hypothesis. The bad is that it’s not going to happen, at least in the foreseeable future.
Cory Bernardi in this magazine (3 March) wants to see a conservative ‘long march’ through our ‘compromised’ institutions. That’s not going to happen either. The leftist followers of the Marxist inventor of that phrase have already swarmed through, locking the doors behind them. There’s no room for anyone expressing conservative views in any of the public bodies listed above. Senator Bernardi hopes that a conservative reconquest might come about through parliament, by a party like his ‘securing the balance of power’ and ‘forcing government… to accept conservative positions’. That would be nice, but our entrenched institutional leftists, secure and self-satisfied in their generously remunerated sinecures, need not fear. Government by negotiation and compromise is unlikely to find time or energy to do anything about them.
What would frighten them is almost unthinkable. Suppose conservatives like Senator Bernardi succeeded beyond their wildest dreams and were elected as a majority government. Would they have the huge reserves of political courage to turn off the tap? Could they bring themselves to defund the ‘compromised’ institutions, to pull the plug at the source of their power, so that leftist fiefdoms would either have to shut down or find their own means of support? Because only by knocking out the Left in its seats of influence can there be any hope of a conservative ‘revolution’.
If the answer is, yes, a real conservative government would have that courage, let’s be clear about what it would need to do. For a start dismantle the ABC and SBS – even if these weren’t citadels of the Left, what’s the point of state broadcasters in a digital age, especially state broadcasters that are not, as was once intended, emitters of high culture, but have descended to out-vulgarising the commercial sector? Next, take on the universities. Useful faculties such as dentistry or veterinary science could still be publicly subsided through HECS; ‘humanities’, riddled with leftist notions of deconstructionism and postcolonialism (and that’s at the ‘serious’ end – at the frivolous there’s genderqueer studies and the sociology of facelifts) certainly not. Ignore academic apologists trying the old defence of ‘communities of scholars’: universities haven’t been that since they gave in, like Hitler’s universities offering courses in ‘Aryan theory’, to the secular superstition of ‘cultural relativism’ with its unscholarly substitution of prejudice for fact. For professional education in, say, the law or architecture, the old master-pupil relationship of articled training should be restored.
Take a deep breath and see where else the surgeon’s healing knife must cut. Ah, the arts. The Australia Council should be abolished, tout court. State-approved culture is pure leftism, as in Stalin’s Russia. No more grants to support ‘artists’ in their vanity, playing round with bits of wire or ‘conceptless’ compositions. Let them, as artists used to do, find patrons, who are far more adept than bureaucrats at separating the sheep from the goats. Patrons and sponsors should pay too for the Australian Opera (not necessarily a leftist enclave, but you have to be fair) and especially for ‘experimental’ theatre. The money saved on grants could be diverted to improvements in agriculture or health sciences or to house the homeless or in dozens of other beneficial ways.
No one except anarchists would suggest defunding the police or the armed forces. Instead Bernardi’s policy of ‘conservative positions’ could be applied here to sweep away the modish nonsense imposed by the likes of General ‘Slingbacks’ David Morrison, leaving these essential institutions to defend us without the debilitating distraction of ‘diversity training’.
That the denial of dollars can work is shown by the fate of Julia Gillard’s Climate Commission, which was forever holding forth about the supposed perils of ‘global warming’. When Tony Abbott abolished it (saving more than a million dollars a year) the principal snouts in its trough had to resort to ‘crowd-funding’ and, fools and money being soon parted, managed to rake in enough to reinvent themselves as the Climate Council. But who apart from eco-catastropharians listens to their bleatings now?
Similarly, defunding sent the gender-distortionists of ‘Safe Schools’ slinking back to their campus covens when their efforts to make schools unsafe for the development of normal boys and girls proved too much even for the Turnbull government. But that blow for commonsense notwithstanding, schools would still be the biggest obstacle to conservative reform. We have to have schools (though home-schooling should receive more government encouragement) and they can’t not be paid for. And since the Commonwealth contributes only about a quarter of their costs, prising them from the leftist grip would need state or territory cooperation. Perhaps a federal government that’s had the stamina do some of the above might find a way to achieve this.
If not, and if a conservative revolution in the present state of Australian politics is a fantasy, conservatives have no option but to circle the wagons in the hope that sooner or later easy-going Australian voters will get sick of paying for leftists to meddle with their lives, and ‘populism’, so feared and detested by the Left, will come riding to the rescue.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free