The right on the left

Quadrant Online is running a forum on The Australian‘s ‘What’s left?’ series.

From the classical liberal side there is Jason Soon on social justice and me re-working my left sensibility material from last week.

Angela Shanahan and Bill Muehlenberg represent family-values conservatism.

John Dawson argues with Dennis Glover about equality.

And Mervyn Bendle provides the Quadrant grumpy old man perspective: ‘the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia is a shallow, condescending narcissist.. a labored, cliché-ridden, self-serving piece of propaganda, without even a hint of an interesting idea or original vision … the Left is about are simplistic ideas and slogans, jealousy, resentment, opportunism, and a lust for power and personal advancement. ‘

32 thoughts on “The right on the left

  1. Interesting perspective on Gillard. I’m often reminded how smart she is and I also remind myself that she may not be.

    1. Supporting Latham to the last breath.
    2. Medicare gold
    3. Building school dunnies and calling it part of the stimulus package s supposed to increase productivity.
    4. Demanding school building placards dedicated to her.
    5. Personalizing Workchoices and at one stage wrecking the lives of a country folk couple.
    6. Re-regulating the labor markets to resemble a slopped up version of the awards system prior to the 80’s reforms.

    Yep, she sure is a genius.


  2. It is all so sad. The right has come to this. There is a lot to be said for the middle ground, they would be better off trying to define it and take it instead if trying to restart the cultural wars. Which they lost anyway.


  3. Charles:

    it would be a great if you were able to define middle ground so we all know exactly what this meddle ground is that you’re referring to.

    Would you be so kind.


  4. “I’m often reminded how smart she is and I also remind myself that she may not be”
    I think the latter of these is probably why she seems to have been demoted, with Penny Wong now acting as the unofficial second in charge.


  5. Charles:

    I was expecting a more enlightened answer from you. You obviously can’t even define the terms you’re suggesting the right wing should be measured by

    ” simplistic ideas and slogans, jealousy, resentment, opportunism…” seems pretty apt, hey?


  6. “simplistic ideas and slogans, jealousy, resentment, opportunism…”

    Read my post again; couldn’t find any of those. As I said, it really is sad that the right has been reduced to trying to restart culture wars that they lost anyway.

    I truly don’t want to get into a debate over the right or wrong of the extreme left or right positions. Rational argument doesn’t work. As to the current government, they are technocrats looking for what works, that is the middle ground.


  7. Charles:

    It always seems to me that the middle ground you’re continually describing falls somewhere in between the Greens and the far left of the ALP.

    Charles, please explain how spending $43 billion creating a telco monopoly that will hamper any competition through government edict and essentially re-creating the old Telecom monopolistic stranglehold held over the economy we tried to break away from is “middle ground”.

    Explain how returning to the 70’s award system is middle ground.

    explain how controlling the internet is middle ground.

    I honestly think you have absolutely no idea what the term middle ground is other than when it’s somehow bolted on to leftwing positions. Either that or you’re simply trying to pull a fast one.

    Now I ask you again to define middle ground. If you can’t, as you seem unable to, then just say so and we’ll move on.


  8. Andrew – You are so right about about Mervyn Bendle providing the ‘Quadrant grumpy old man perspective.’ Quadrant is so bad at doing the grumpy old man perspective and it is a real turn off. Such a shame that all the effort thats goes into publishing a regular journal being wasted on such poor output. 😦


  9. – $43 billion creating a telco monopoly
    I can’t understand why people don’t see this is a god send for Telstra. Another company ( which will probable get listed on the stock exchange) has to deal with the problem. As to my left or right view on the matter, could not care less one way or the other.

    – 70’s award system is middle ground.
    It’s actually closer to the system we had in the 90’s, the system that came in to place because Hawk had the balls to dismantle the system we had in the 70’s. I do have an opinion on this. Power needs to be divided and before you dismiss the union movement have a long hard look at why Australia ended up being the country with the largest middle class. Yes there were problems in the 70’s but union history is not all bad.

    Clearly this is a view shared by the majority, and as I said, in my view the middle round is where the votes are at.

    – controlling the internet is middle ground.
    Ya, pretty stupid, but I suspect my views are a little extreme, the question is, are they to the left ( social freedom) or to the right (suspect government intervention).


  10. Another monopoly through government edict is a “god send”, is it Charles? And you’re the one telling people they’re lunatics if they’re not hanging around the middle of the political spectrum. Your “middle” of course. Do you ever read what you’re saying?

    70’s award system is middle ground.M

    Lol. Tell me you’re a comedy writer in you’re working life.

    Yes there were problems in the 70’s but union history is not all bad.

    Yea and Stalin loved cats. LOl.

    Clearly this is a view shared by the majority, and as I said, in my view the middle round is where the votes are at.
    – controlling the internet is middle ground.

    – We’re not really talking about vote buying exercises/rackets here, Charles.

    Ya, pretty stupid, but I suspect my views are a little extreme, the question is, are they to the left ( social freedom) or to the right (suspect government intervention).

    It’s nanny statism of course and the ALP are masters at it. That’s not to say the other party wasn’t bad too but nowhere near as bad as this lot of intellectual hooligans.

    Can you please define middle ground?


  11. I have to say, some of the responses at Quadrant Online are pretty vitriolic and sometimes simply bizarre/absurd. Not yours Andrew, but I think some other writers would probably benefit from trying to be less like Australian versions of Rush Limbaugh. Then people like me, centre-left social democrats who are open to ideas from the right, would be open to listen to them rather then switching off as soon as the tirade starts. I suppose the Quadrant Online series is preaching to the converted anyway, hence the general tone.


  12. Krystian – Richard Posner’s book on intellectuals argues, plausibly I think, that they provide ‘solidarity goods’ to their fellow believers – a tribal exercise in rallying the troops and denouncing the enemy. Obviously this is however a hopeless strategy for converting those who are not already onside.


  13. Andrew – as one of the troops, I don’t find myself being rallied. I just cringe. I understand your point about Posner, but I think Quadrant does it reallly badly. Much prefer Policy.


  14. [JC
    September 29th, 2009 21:49
    Another monopoly through government edict is a “god send”,

    A god send to Telstra, yes. For the nation, time will tell, may turn out like the snowy, a very good idea that improved the nations productivity, yet was opposed all the way by the “right”, well the Liberal party in it’s many forms anyway, or it may turn out like Aussat, pretty much a waste of time.

    The future will tell; at least they have the gumption to dream big dreams; it’s a little more productive than tired old culture wars.


  15. The future will tell; at least they have the gumption to dream big dreams; it’s a little more productive than tired old culture wars.

    Well how about this then, Charles. How about you, Conroy and Rudd dream your “man from Snowy River” dreams with your dime and not mine. How does that sound. If you wanna play at the Melbourne Casino’s roulette wheel take your own cash.

    How exactly is your prediction that Telstra will make out well though this a boon for consumers and investors in other technology such as G4 that could actually trump the fiber network?

    One last thing, Charles can you offer any assurances that the cost of the network won’t cause the government to prescribe minimum pricing, or doesn’t competition demands apply to your dreams?


  16. JC
    Your money is the money left over after you have paid tax. Nothing more and nothing less. The standard of living you enjoy occurs because you live in a modern economy. Government intervention is part of it.

    In the last two paragraphs you outlined risks, why will Telstra do well? Because they no longer have to take those risk. One could argue that Telstra shareholders reaping a reward while society as a whole takes the risk is unjust, but that doesn’t seem to be your line of argument.


  17. Terrific ideas, Charles. So rather than privatize the risk your welcoming what Henry Ergas referred in an op-ed Australian as casino socialism, a project costing $43 billion (4.5% of GDP) on which the government hasn’t even don’t a cost/benefit analysis.

    And this, Charles are the things you refer to as being “sad” about the right.

    You still haven’t defined the middle ground and you continue to peddle 5 year industrial plans that possibly not even the Soviet politburo would have gone ahead with without a cost benefit analysis.

    Some ” middle ground” you’re peddling, Charles. You sure it isn’t middle earth?


  18. Hey Charles, you’ve said a couple of times that you run your own business.

    Can I ask you what you’d rate your chances of going to a bank and requesting a loan for a bolt on business for which you have not prepared a business plan but tell the bank manager that you want to follow your dream?

    Rate it out of 10 Charles.

    Also rate the chances out of 10 that out of the sloppy preparation the manager was able to discern that the only way the business was going to be a goer is if you managed to convince the government to throw out all your competitors and afford you a monopoly.

    Also rate the chances of him throwing you out of the office in 17 seconds flat.


  19. Is there any information about who reads Quadrant and who reads Policy – Because given the differences between the two, despite being on the same side of the political spectrum, I imagine that Quadrant would be the staple of “grumpy old men” interested in culture wars whilst Policy would have more people in government (even on the centre-left!), business, think tanks etc who actually want policy ideas and suggestions and not just tirades. It would also be interesting to see how the IPA Review fits in…


  20. “I imagine that Quadrant would be the staple of “grumpy old men” interested in culture wars whilst Policy …”

    Quadrant is read (and written) by Grumpy Old Men with enlarged prostates and coffee stains on their ties.


  21. Krystian – There will be a reader survey for Policy in the next few weeks, though a fairly short and limited one. The current draft has a question as to whether Policy readers also read Quadrant and IPA Review. Our joint subscription deal with Quadrant has been reasonably popular, so there is certainly some overlap.


  22. JC

    Actually JC the bank manager is more interested in you current cash flow, and the assets your going to put on the line. You can’t borrow money on a dream, even a well documented one.


  23. That’s interesting Andrew – I know this is off topic, but it would also be interesting to see where readers turn for their political news. For example, I wonder whether despite their general dislike for the ABC, most readers of Quadrant, Policy and the IPA Review rely on the ABC for their TV and radio news (as opposed to other potential competitors such as Sky).


  24. Interesting Charles. So cash flows are important, hey? This would form part of the overall presentation incorporating a cash flows statement and leading me to suggest you wouldn’t think of walking in without projections.. ie a business plan. Yet you seem quite happy to turn the wheel on a $43 billion bet on 16 and not even having a cost benefit analysis to show for it. And in your mind it’s the right that is making you sad. I’m gobsmaked.


  25. I watch the ABC’s 7.30 Report for the truth, Krystian. The former Whitlam staffer does a great job of presenting both sides of a story without ever favoring the ABC. Ever. Honest.


  26. Krystian, I watch Lateline if there is a breaking political story and religiously watch Insiders on Sundays. Despite the criticism he has received, I’m pretty happy with Tony Jones and I think Barrie Cassidy is a national treasure. Q&A has too many boneheads in the audience. But I also read the Australian online for the best mainstream media commentary in the country.


  27. Christopher Ellis’ research on US public opinion suggests that it is conservatives, not liberals, who have a sensibility-based and symbolic politics:

    Unlike liberals, who by and large identify as liberals because of—or at least in reflection of—a consistent political worldview, many conservatives may identify as such because of meanings of “conservative” not grounded in real-world politics. The first “nonoperational” route by which citizens might come to a conservative self-identification stems from the way ideology and issues are framed in elite discourse. Liberals, of course, never use the word “liberal” in political messages, instead choosing to emphasize specific programs and support for specific targeted groups. Conservatives, by contrast, frame messages in general terms, talking about the positive aspects of a conservative approach to policymaking (and, even more prominently, the dangers of a liberal one), while being reluctant to discuss the implications of political conservatism—in most cases, cutting spending on popular programs—for policy.


  28. Geoff – It is possibly not a revelation that activists do not play up the negative consequences of their policies; liberals are less keen on mentioning tax increases than spending increases.

    Nor is it surprising that conservatives do not have a consistent political worldview (though this is true of most people in mass surveys). It is an anti-ideological ideology. As I have argued before, ‘conservatism’ is whatever the people called conservatives happen to believe, though we can identify recurring themes across places and times.


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