Flat White

The spirit of conservative vision

14 May 2022

9:00 AM

14 May 2022

9:00 AM

One of the principal election strategies employed by Scott Morrison is the argument that Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party cannot be trusted with the economy as Liberal governments are better economic and financial managers.

Since the time of Robert Menzies, capitalism and the free market have been viewed as preferable to socialism and centralised state control.

Ignored, as the Bible says: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ To be human is to thirst for a more lasting, more profound, and more visionary sense of the world and one’s place in it. The need to reassert the importance of a more substantial sense of how to find fulfilment and meaning is especially needed given the impact of neo-Marxist inspired political correctness and Cancel Culture.

As argued by the British philosopher and cultural critic Roger Scruton, such is the impact of the Culture Wars and Woke ideology that it is no longer enough for political leaders to focus on issues like ‘market economics’ and ‘free trade’.

In his book Conservatism, Scruton writes that the challenge facing conservatives is to reassert the significance of Christianity. Scruton exhorts conservatives to, ‘Rediscover what we are and what we stand for, and having rediscovered it, be prepared to fight for it. That is now, as it has ever been, the conservative message. And what we stand for is a religious as much as political inheritance.’

Scruton goes on to suggest central to the conflict between conservatism and cultural Marxism is the process of ‘exploring the roots of secular government in the Christian inheritance’ and re-establishing ‘confidence, not in our political institutions only, but in the spiritual inheritance on which they ultimately rest’.

As argued by Augusto Zimmermann in his chapter Why Christianity Matters In These Troubled Times, it is impossible to appreciate and understand the political and legal systems Australia has inherited from Britain without acknowledging Christ’s teachings in the New Testament.

Christian concepts like the inherent dignity of the person, the right to liberty and freedom, and the belief that God’s laws are above the laws of the State, underpin documents like Magna Carta and the American Declaration of Independence. It’s no accident Christians like William Wilberforce led the campaign to end slavery and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech is imbued with Christian teachings.

As noted by Tim Costello in another chapter, illustrated by the parable of The Good Samaritan, the duty of Christians is to help and protect the marginalised and the dispossessed. Costello writes, ‘In Matthew 25, Jesus instructs His followers to care for the hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, and imprisoned – the marginalised, in whom His face can be revealed.’

The reality is whether social welfare, health, aged care, or schools – religious-inspired and managed organisations like charities are a critical part of Australian society and our way of life. Without them, governments would find it impossible to cope. Martyn Iles makes a related point that Christian virtues and beliefs strengthen community cohesion, reciprocity, and social capital.

One of the other authors contributing to Christianity Matters, Peter Craven, details how impoverished and threadbare Western culture would be without Christian-inspired literature, music, art, and architecture.

Craven writes, ‘The New Testament is part of the air we breathe, and may it ever be.’ And, ‘When we stare at the Sistine Chapel ceiling or listen to Mozart’s Requiem or his Coronation Mass we are not experiencing the rhetoric of a religious vision but an essence where beauty and truth are at one.’

JRR Tolkien states the much applauded and popular Lord of the Rings trilogy is imbued with Christian concepts including the fight between good and evil, sin and redemption, and the struggle to resist temptation and instead do what is good. CS Lewis’ Narnia books can also only be properly appreciated through a Christian perspective.

One of the other authors to Christianity Matters, Cardinal George Pell, in arguing the need to acknowledge and celebrate the word of God quotes from Solzhenitsyn, who realised that communism was inherently nihilistic and evil and that Christianity was the only viable alternative.

After referring to The Gulag Archipelago, Cardinal Pell writes: ‘He believed that the disasters of twentieth century Russian history occurred because ‘men have forgotten God’; indeed, he sees this as ‘the principal trait of the entire twentieth century’.’ 

Former Prime Minister, John Howard, in a speech to young liberals wisely argued:

‘Any party which seeks to have a long period in government, any party that seeks to maintain its relevance to the Australian community, will always be a party both of ideas and ideals… A political party that does not give pride of place to ideals and values is a political party that will very quickly lose not only its soul but also its sense of direction.’ 

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a senior fellow at the ACU’s PM Glynn Institute and the editor of Christianity Matters In These Troubled Times. It is to be launched by Tony Abbott in Sydney May 19. Tickets and book available at the Page Research Centre’s website.

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