Crikey reported during the week that Gerard Henderson was threatening to sue UWA Press over their triple-titled The War on Democracy/Conservative Opinion in the Australian Press/A Savage Journey to the Heart of the Conservative Dream. But it’s in the bookshops, and that’s where it should stay, so that it can sink under the weight of its own silliness.
The authors, Niall Lucy, author of A Derrida Dictionary, and Steve Mickler, begin with a Humpty-Dumptyish definition of ‘democracy’:
As an idea and an ideal, then democracy acknowledges that between the many different interests in a society there are unequal relations of power, and so it acts to give power to those interests which on their own are less equal than others.
That’s hardly how most people would define democracy, which is about giving people political power, not equalising power more generally (in practice a broader equalisation of power has been a consequence of democracy, but it is not ‘democracy’ in itself). What Lucy and Mickler mean is closer to social democracy, or social justice. I can’t see any intellectual value in conflating separate concepts; the authors are confused, or perhaps they are trying to use the term as a polemical device to disassociate conservatives from something everyone believes to be A Good Thing.
‘Democracy’ is not the only eccentric definition. The first ‘conservative’ to be attacked is Luke Slattery, who I think would probably put himself somewhere on the left, and certainly would not be seen by anyone on the right as a ‘conservative’. But he gets labelled a ‘conservative’ because he is against postmodernism.
Ironically, this is because Lucy and Mickler seem to follow the logic of their own criticism of how conservatives construct the left:
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