Thursday, April 20, 2017

nations and shared values and why it won't work

There’s been some excitement over moves by Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to tighten up on the rules for granting Australian citizenship. Apparently prospective citizens will have to prove that they share Australia’s values.

This is quite interesting. I had no idea that Australia had any shared values. I’m quite sure I don’t share any values with Malcolm Turnbull. 

Is it even possible to base a nation on shared values? How many nations have been based on shared values? Nazi Germany perhaps. The old Soviet Union. In today’s world North Korea is probably the only real example. When we say that a nation is based on shared values what we’re saying is that it’s a successful totalitarianism. Everyone believes the same thing. If they don’t they get sent to a re-education camp until they do.

Liberals and progressives love the idea of nations based on values, because they assume that they’ll get to choose the values and they’ll get to enforce conformity. And there’s nothing they enjoy more than enforcing conformity.

Of course at this point someone will object and say that the United States has been a marvelous example of the success of a proposition nation, and that a proposition nation is essentially one that is based on shared values.

Indeed. A great success. But hold on a moment, wasn’t the Civil War fairly damning evidence that Americans did not share values after all? And that shared values were in fact imposed by force on the conquered South?

And today progressives, the ones who love that shared values stuff, refuse to accept the legitimacy of the current President. And the reason? Because he doesn’t share their values!

Experience tends to show that nations based on a shared history and a shared culture are more successful than nations based on shared values. That’s why Japan is a nice place to live and North Korea isn’t.

Tightening up the rules for citizenship is a great idea (although halting immigration altogether would be an even better idea) but basing the mechanisms on meaningless twaddle like values is never going to work, and for me the concept of shared values always carries with it the faint whiff of latent totalitarianism.

Sorry Malcolm, but I don’t buy it.


  1. Are we in danger here of conflating values with cultures and with politics. These are separable items though often co-dependant. I too get very slightly amused by the phrase 'Australian Values'. I have no idea what they might be. 'Fair go'? 'She'll be right'? I guffaw at 'Labour Values', so often referred to by the lackies of mini-Marx. The values that underpin western society are Religious. Christianity in particular. These are 'deep' rather than so culturally or politically sensitive and surface (or is that 'shallow'?) that a mere expression can bring hordes of thugs out onto the streets. Anytime Turdball mentions 'shared values', he should at least provide a slab of tinnies.

    1. The values that underpin western society are Religious. Christianity in particular.

      Agreed, but I'm pretty sure they're not the values Malcolm Turnbull has in mind!

  2. It depends, does it not, on what it's compared to. Compared to Islam, it's easy to define our values. Compared to other Anglo nations, it's more difficult.