[LINK] go howard!
Deus Ex Machina
vicc at cia.com.au
Wed Oct 4 17:00:57 AEST 2006
IT'S important we remember not just the big ideological struggles but
also the individuals who took up the cause of cultural freedom and the
defence of liberal democracy against its enemies.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Soviet communism,
it became all too easy to pretend that the outcome of the Cold War was
an inevitable result of large-scale, impersonal forces that ultimately
left totalitarianism exhausted and democratic capitalism triumphant.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This was a struggle fought by
individuals on behalf of the individual spirit. It's worth recalling
just some of the philo-communism that was once quite common in Australia
in the 1950s and '60s:
. MANNING Clark's book Meeting Soviet Man, where he likened the ideals
of Vladimir Lenin to those of Jesus Christ;
. JOHN Burton, the former head of the external affairs department,
arguing that Mao's China provided a model for the transformation of
. ALL those who did not simply oppose Australia's commitment in Vietnam
but who actively supported the other side and fed the delusion that Ho
Chi Minh was some sort of Jeffersonian Democrat intent on spreading
liberty in Asia.
There is a view that the pro-communist Left in Australia in decades past
was no more than a bunch of naive idealists, rather than what they were:
ideological barrackers for regimes of oppression opposed to Australia
and its interests. They were right in principle and part of a noble and
The influence of the pro-communist Left in Australian cultural circles
did wane over time - after Hungary and (Nikita) Khrushchev's secret
speech in 1956 and further still after the brutal suppression of the
Prague spring in 1968.
In the '60s and '70s, it largely gave way to a new Left counterculture,
where again Quadrant served as a beacon of free and sceptical thought
against fashionable leftist views on social, foreign policy and economic
issues. In the eyes of the new Left, the Cold War became a struggle
defined by moral equivalence, where the Soviet bloc and the American-led
West were equally to blame, each possessing their own dominating
ideologies. It became the height of intellectual sophistication to
believe that people in the West were no less oppressed than people under
the yoke of communist dictatorship.
In time, the world would luckily see the emergence of three remarkable
individuals whose moral clarity punctured such nonsense: Ronald Reagan,
Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. All of us here tonight owe a
particular debt of gratitude to these three towering figures of the late
Beyond this defining ideological struggle, Quadrant has also been at the
centre of various controversies and causes in Australia, often prepared
to publish things that others would not touch, often taking stands that
others shied away from taking.
Of the causes that Quadrant has taken up that are close to my heart,
none is more important to me than the role it has played as counterforce
to the black-armband view of Australian history. Until recent times, it
had become almost de rigueur in intellectual circles to regard
Australian history as little more than a litany of sexism, racism and
Again, it would take the brave voices of a few individuals to take a
stand against the orthodoxies of the day. And again Quadrant has been an
outpost of lively non-conformity in its willingness to defend both
Geoffrey Blainey and Keith Windschuttle against the posses of political
correctness. Nowhere were the fangs of the Left so visibly on display in
a campaign based on character assassination and intellectual dishonesty
than in their efforts to trash the name and reputation of Blainey.
Quadrant has always been a principled defender of what I might call a
traditionalist view of a good education and in opposition to the more
fashionable, progressive views that have held sway in schools and
Early this year I called for a root and branch renewal of Australian
history in our schools, with a restoration of narrative instead of what
I labelled the fragmented stew of themes and issues.
Armed with clear evidence of the decline of Australian history in our
schools, the Government has made a start in our quest to ensure that the
nation's history is an essential component of every Australian child's
education, no longer an afterthought or an optional extra.
This is about ensuring children are actually taught their national
inheritance: a nation like all others with its share of failures and
mistakes, but one that has emerged at the start of this millennium as
one of the most successful societies on earth.
Few debates are as vital as those over education, whether it be in
upholding basic standards on literacy and numeracy, promoting diversity
and choice or challenging the incomprehensible sludge that can find its
way into some curriculum material.
That is why the Government will continue to be very tough on states and
territories that fail to live up to their obligations for high standards
in our schools.
Today, free and open societies face a new tyranny: the tyranny of
Islamist terrorism, one with at least a family resemblance to the great
struggles against forces of totalitarianism in the past. A Czech writer
once wrote with great prescience: You can't build utopia without terror
and before long terror is all that's left.
And just as past struggles called for clear and unambiguous statements
of belief and purpose, so we must again make very clear what is at
Let me repeat what I have said before. This is not a struggle against
Islam. It is a struggle against a perverted interpretation of Islam.
As we see on a daily basis, it is the terrorists and suicide bombers who
eagerly set out to spread terror and to kill innocent Muslim civilians.
Countries with their sons and daughters serving in Iraq and Afghanistan
today would like nothing more than to see them complete their job and
To those who want to portray the West as anti-Muslim, I would say that
it was not the Arab League who went to war in the '90s on behalf of
Muslim minorities in the Balkans. It was the governments of the US, the
UK and their NATO allies. Let me also remind people who talk as if Iraq
was some island of pro-Islamic tranquillity before 2003 that the person
who probably killed more Muslims in history is Saddam Hussein.
There are people who legitimately opposed the original action to oust
Saddam, but it remains an inconvenient truth that if countries such as
the US, the UK and Australia simply abandon the people of Iraq, this
would be a victory for the forces of terror and extremism.
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