Friday, December 30, 2011

reform of higher education

There can be few more important issues than the left's stranglehold over education systems in virtually all western countries. It's an issue that conservative political leaders seem strangely frightened of. No conservative political leader has ever had the courage to propose genuine reform of higher education, to return universities to being centres of learning rather than centres of left-wing activism and political indoctrination.

So it comes as a pleasant surprise to see at least one would-be presidential candidate in the US finally putting the issue on the agenda.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

a world without schoolteachers

Personally I can’t think of anything better than a world without schoolteachers. Finally, a means of defeating political correctness, of returning control of education to parents, of breaking the power of teachers’ unions, and making homeschooling an option for everybody.

I suspect the author of the article is being a bit optimistic about the usefulness of the Kindle and the Nook but the fact remains that technology does hold out the promise of making homeschooling a more and more viable option. And if nothing else I like the idea of telling left-wing schoolteachers that they won’t be needed much longer.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Fabrication of Aboriginal History Vol. 3: The Stolen Generations

One of the most emotionally and politically volatile issues in Australia over the past few decades has been the so-called “stolen generations” - the legend that Australian state governments pursued a policy of genocide against Aboriginal Australians during the first half of the twentieth century. This has led to an orgy of white liberal guilt and has now become accepted dogma in our leftist-dominated universities.

In his monumental and exceptionally thorough The Fabrication of Aboriginal History Vol. 3: The Stolen Generations Keith Winschuttle comprehensively demolishes this theory.

According to the theory thousands of Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their parents as part of a grand scheme to destroy their sense of Aboriginal identity and thus to destroy the Aboriginal race. The self-flagellating academics of the Left have tried to paint this as being a crime equivalent to the Holocaust.

He points out that the numbers cited by leftist historians simply don’t add up. The institutions to which the children were supposedly sent could have housed no more than a fraction of the numbers usually cited. Statements by various government officials have been taken out of context. Evidence that contradicts the Stolen Generations theory has been ignored or suppressed.

In fact small numbers of children were removed from their families and put into care, for exactly the same reasons that white children at that time were put into care because they were orphaned, because their parents would not or could not care for them, because they were neglected (often to the point of suffering from malnutrition). Girls were put into care in situations where they were being sexually abused or forced into prostitution.

The policies pursued by state governments from the late 19th century up to the 1960s were sometimes paternalistic and often ineffective due to woefully inadequate funding but on the whole they were motivated by a genuine desire to help Aboriginals. Missionaries and other welfare workers who devoted their lives to helping Aboriginals have in recent years been shamefully defamed by politically motivated attacks on their integrity and their motives.

And of course the Stolen Generations has now become an accepted part of the dogma of Political Correctness in Australia. And this is in a country where political correctness is now legally enforceable.

Needless to say Windschuttle has become the subject of vitriolic attacks by the Left.

It is a terrifying example of the lengths to which leftists and academics (and in Australia if you’re not a leftist your chances of becoming an academic are very very slim) will go in denigrating their own country and their own culture in an orgy of self-loathing combined with self-righteousness. It is an even more terrifying example of the power of the leftist media to turn wild accusations into official dogma.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Stridency as a sign of weakness

I’ve been involved in a discussion elsewhere on the growing aggressiveness of the pro-abortion movement and their increasing tendency to present abortion as something to celebrate.

What strikes me is that very often the more strident someone is about their beliefs the more uncertain they really are. I’ve noticed that over the years with political lesbians. Many of the most militantly radical political lesbians end up turning straight. So their militancy was merely a means of covering up the disturbing little seeds of doubt that were growing inside them all the time.

I’ve also noticed it recently among the advocates of climate change hysteria. As the number of climate change sceptics grows, and as the evidence for man-made climate change becomes ever more elusive, so the proponents of this dogma become ever more shrill and enraged.

You can see it with radical Islam as well. The fear of the radical Islamists is that more and more young Moslems will end up like the average westerner, paying at best lip service to their faith but in practice being more interested in iPods and Facebook than in jihad.

I suspect it’s the same with abortion, that those who are trying the hardest to convince us that abortion is a cause for celebration are probably secretly tortured by doubts, by the awful fear that abortion is in fact murder and is utterly indefensible.

political correctness and popular culture

One of the problems of bring a recovered leftist is that one finds oneself completely cut off from contemporary popular culture. I just can’t watch modern Hollywood movies or modern television any more. The relentless pushing of the politically correct agenda, of the gay agenda, of the cultural relativist agenda, just gets too annoying.

On the other hand one of the few good things about this wretched century is that it’s not necessary to watch any of this garbage. There are so many old movies and old TV shows available on DVD that it’s possible to cut oneself off entirely from the world of today. Which is what I find myself doing more and more.

And thanks to the internet it’s also possible to find other alternatives. Books that tell the truth about nonsense like climate change and other leftist ideologies, books that expose the lies of the Left, are easily obtainable.

Websites and blogs (like the excellent Oz Conservative blog) provide another means of retaining one’s sanity. Although of course it’s only a matter of time before the Left starts cracking down on such alternatives. Already we’re seeing censorship by stealth of old books - new editions of many books from the past are being censored to remove passages that are deemed to be culturally insensitive. This Orwellian practice is one of the more worrying manifestations of the Left’s determination to enforce political correctness.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Can We Trust the BBC?

Can We Trust the BBC? is Robin Aiken’s devastating expose of leftist bias at the BBC. Of course every thinking person already knew the BBC could not be trusted, but Aiken provides the evidence from the inside.

Aiken worked at the BBC for many years and he gives us the inside dirt on the systematic and institutionalised bias. The bias is not merely unconscious, a product of the silly left-wing ideologies that journalists seem to be drawn to, it is calculated and deliberate. A political agenda is being pushed shamelessly and ruthlessly.

The vindictiveness with which political opponents are pursued by the BBC is one of the more terrifying aspects of the book.

Most worrying of all perhaps has been the unwillingness of conservative governments in Britain to confront this problem.

The parallels between the BBC and Australia’s ABC are all too obvious, an all too depressing.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Man Who Would Be King

Rudyard Kipling might be deeply unfashionable these days but I have a weakness for unfashionable writers. He was something that is almost unimaginable these days - an enormously popular writer who also won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He’s also the sort of writer the PC Thought Police would like to stop us from reading.

Kipling was one of the grand masters of the art of the short story and The Man Who Would Be King and other stories gives us five splendid examples.

I’ve been meaning to get round to reading the title story for years, ever since the first time I saw John Huston’s magnificent 1975 film adaptation. It was a remarkably faithful adaptation, but then it’s such a great story and so perfectly suited to cinematic adaptation that there was really no reason to change anything.

A newspaperman in British India in the late 19th century encounters two somewhat disreputable British adventurers. They tell him their plan, which is a simple one. They intend to journey to a remote valley on the borders of Afghanistan and set themselves up as kings. They have pooled their financial resources in order to buy twenty Martini rifles. With their own military backgrounds (they might be rogues but they’re trained soldiers with an appreciation for the virtues of military discipline) and these guns they will teach the inhabitants of the valley the art of modern warfare, whereupon they will undoubtedly be acclaimed as kings.

The journalist takes a certain liking to these two adventurers but there’s not the slightest doubt in his mind they he will never see them alive again.

A couple of years later a broken wreck of a man shambles into his newspaper office and he learns the strange fates of Peachy Carnehan and Daniel Dravot.

Of the other stories in the collection The Phantom Rickshaw is an effective ghost story whilst The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes is a bizarre but excellent piece of weird fiction concerning the place where the dead who aren’t really dead end up.

Without Benefit of Clergy is a tale of a relationship between a British colonial official and an Indian Muslim woman that demonstrates Kipling’s complex and subtle understanding of the problems of colonialism for both sides.

Kipling was an intelligent, humane and perceptive writer who deserves to be more widely read. The Man Who Would Be King and other stories is a pretty good place to start.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

enemies of western civilisation

If you're looking for enemies of western civilisation you'll find a surprising number in the Church of England. Western society has few more dangerous enemies than that politically correct nutter and enthusiast proponent of sharia law, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

the politics of surrender

I’ve become more and more convinced that the greatest threat to civilisation comes not from the Left, but from “moderate” conservatives. Conservatives who are prepared to compromise their principles.

The culture wars cannot be won by a policy of retreat. No war can be won by a policy of retreat. When conservatives allow the Left to control the political agenda defeat becomes inevitable. Surrendering the initiative is a guarantee of defeat.

Unfortunately conservative political leaders worldwide have retreated so far already that any further retreat is tantamount to surrender.

Gay marriage is one excellent example. When you’re prepared to compromise so far as to accept the liberal argument that homosexuality is natural and healthy then you leave yourself with no grounds on which to oppose gay marriage, and no grounds to oppose any sexual behaviour whatsoever.

When a policy of compromise is pursued on issues such as imaginary climate change then, once again, ultimate surrender is the only possible end result.

Choosing “moderate” conservatives is always a fatal choice. Conservatives need to regain the initiative, and it’s important to remember that the best defence is always a good offence.

Friday, December 16, 2011

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and audience perceptions

Interesting article by Steven Kates at Quadrant Online on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The author points out that audiences invariably see R. P. McMurphy as the hero and Nurse Ratched as the villain whereas it's more accurate to see McMurphy as a completely destructive anti-social force.

Kates wrote the article after seeing a stage production but it's the 1975 film version that has become a cultural icon and his observations apply equally to both the movie and Ken Kesey's original novel.

The rise of the anti-hero was one of the first serious signs western civilisation was beginning to fall apart. It was also one of the first manifestations of the culture wars in popular culture.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Last Days of Europe

In The Last Days of Europe distinguished historian Walter Laqueur argues that Europe as we know it will cease to exist at some point during the 21st century. What will replace it is not likely to be pleasant.

Laqueur identifies a number of major problems but by far the most serious is the collapse of European populations. The birthrate is so low in countries such as Italy and Spain that by the end of the century Italians and Spaniards will be no more than a tiny minority in their own countries. The situation in Russia is even more disastrous.

The second problem, Muslim immigration on a vast scale, will magnify the catastrophic consequences of the demographic collapse. In some European countries the Muslim population is reproducing at three or four time the rate of the European population. The Muslim minorities have not assimilated and are not going to assimilate, and when they become the majority they are unlikely to benign rulers, especially given that Muslims in Europe tend to be more radical and more extremist that Muslims in the present-day Islamic world.

The most frightening thing of all is that Europe’s leaders have simply ignored these problems until now it is too late.

No-one, including Laqueur, has been able to come up with a plausible explanation for the demogaphic suicide of Europe. Laqueur can offer few suggestions for dealing with the problems he has outlined. The best he can offer is that Europeans might try appeasement towards their rapidly growing Muslim population although he admits that appeasement has never worked in any other situation and is even less likely to work in this one.

An extremely good although thoroughly depressing book.

Monday, December 12, 2011

why the plug should be pulled on the ABC

Good article on the worthlessness of Australia's national broadcaster. Outrageous bias is nothing new at the ABC but it's a problem that gets steadily worse. Why should the Loony Left have its own tame broadcasting network, paid for by the taxpayer?

Keith Windschuttle's The Killing of History

In The Killing of History Keith Windschuttle takes aim at the various silly French intellectual fads that have been infesting our universities in the last few decades and that have been such a blight on our intellectual life.

The structuralists, the semioticians, the post-structuralists, the postmodernists and the rest of this motley crew of pseudo-intellectual frauds are demolished one by one. Windschuttle examines case histories of attempts by these charlatans to replace the traditional academic discipline of the professional historian with politically correct fantasies.

The growth of travesties such as cultural studies is steadily undermining the intellectual foundations on which our civilisation is built. It’s another example of the increasingly self-destructive nature of our beleaguered civilisation.

Windschuttle’s masterly hatchet job has, predictably, enraged the cultural Marxists and their fellow travellers. All the more reason to read this important book.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

gone with the wind

I love this picture (taken from Peter Hitchens' Mail on Sunday blog). This is apparently what happens to those ghastly windmills when it gets really windy. I want to see more windmills explode.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

feelings, and why we shouldn't care about them

Increasingly we live in a society paralysed by the fear that someone somewhere might get offended or upset. Brett Stevens exlpains why we shouldn't care about feelings.

Friday, December 9, 2011

top 20 disasters that never happened

Environmentalists and health nuts never tire of coming up with predictions of doom and gloom. Global warming is just the latest in a long line of projected disasters based on bad science.

Here's Dr Kesten Green's list of the top 20 scares, none of which came true.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Broken Compass: How British Politics Lost its Way

Peter Hitchen’s thesis in The Broken Compass: How British Politics Lost its Way is that Britain’s political parties have become almost indistinguishable, that all subscribe to the same broken-down failed leftist ideologies. A self-serving political class dangerously out of touch with reality and regarding the aspirations of ordinary people with contempt is concerned more with maintaining power by sleazy back-room deals than with anything approaching real democracy.

Britain’s political parties have betrayed their own grass-roots organisations and have become increasingly centralised and undemocratic.

He is equally critical of the media. He makes the point that to see public opinion polls as reflecting public opinion is getting things around the wrong way - the purpose of public opinion polls is to manipulate public opinion.

Hichens combines all this with a kind of autobiography documenting his own increasing disillusionment with the leftist politics of his youth.

Hichens’ analysis has relevance also to countries like Australia where politics is headed in the same direction, dominated by the same self-serving elites and just as out of touch as they are in Britain.

An excellent and very provocative book.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

more silliness from the left-wing press

Just when you think the world can't get any madder. The economics editor of a (notoriously left-wing) major Australian newspaper has come up with the suggestion that we should forget about GDP and instead concentrate our attention on a "wellbeing index" that has been devised by some silly left-wing academic (who happens to have spent much of his career working for our current left-wing government). This index measures a range of totally subjective feelgood hippie-dippie nonsense.

This is presumably an attempt by the Left to soften us up for years of declining living standards as they flush our economy down the toilet with their hardline environmental policies.

Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science

The Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science (published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 1994) by Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt was one of the books that led me to question my leftist politics. The book reveals the terrifying irrationality of the left-wing elites that control the universities and the bullying tactics they use to enforce political correctness.

Silly French intellectual fads such as postmodernism have of course done much of the damage and Gross and Levitt have a good deal of fun demolishing their follies. They were also among the first to draw attention to the lies being told on the subject of global warming.

climate change and political ideology

Good article on the IPCC and why they can't be trusted on the subject of climate change. Also worth reading is Scientists Behaving Badly. More evidence that climate change is political ideology rather than science.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Richard J. Evans’ In Defence of History

Richard J. Evans’ In Defence of History is an attack on the influence of postmodernism on the practice of history. What makes it interesting is that in this case the attack is coming from the Left.

What makes it even more interesting is that Evans is not even particularly hostile to postmodernism. His argument is that although postmodernism can offer the historian some useful insights and techniques there is a very real danger of throwing away the baby with the bath water. If historians abandon the time-honoured techniques of placing their reliance on primary sources and the belief that history is about something real, that the past can be (at least partially) recovered, then they will be left with nothing.

Taken to excess, postmodernist history can end up being not merely nothing but a mix subjectivity and wishful thinking, it can also open the door to some very serious dangers indeed. By rejecting the idea of objective truth postmodernism opens tremendous opportunities for extremists such as Holocaust deniers. If history can become whatever your own political leanings and subjective feelings want it to be there is no longer any valid reason for opposing the works of people like David Irving.

The most horrifying example he gives is a feminist history of witchcraft that treats all sources, including explicitly fictional sources, as being equally valid. His criticism in this case is especially telling since Evans himself is extremely pro-feminist.

When it was published several years ago it attracted a predictable firestorm of criticism in spite of the fact that Evans goes to extraordinary lengths to moderate his attacks on postmodernism. It seems that postmodernists believe that all texts should be regarded with scepticism, apart from their own!

A highly stimulating book, recommended for anyone who is unconvinced by the Brave New world of postmodernism.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Theodore Dalrymple, Life at the Bottom

In Life at the Bottom Theodore Dalrymple, drawing on his experiences working as a prison doctor in Birmingham, argues convincingly that the problems of the underclass have nothing to do with poverty or oppression, and that in absolute terms the underclass are in fact not poor at all. Their problems are cultural and are largely the result of ill-conceived liberal social policies.

A culture of entitlement and resentment and a refusal to accept any degree of personal responsibility traps these people in lives of violence, drugs, drink and general wretchedness. The decline of marriage is yet another factor in creating a permanent underclass. The politicisation of the police force, with the police expected to act as social workers rather than enforcing the law, further aggravates the disaster. Treating addiction as an illness and treating criminals and addicts as victims reinforces the destructive culture of the underclass.

Liberal social policies created this mess and such policies can only go on making it worse.

Essential reading for anyone who cares about what is happening to western society.

Manufacturing Victims by Tana Dineen

Manufacturing Victims details the horrifying true story of the psychology industry, of the ways it not only makes individuals into victims but makes victims of all of us one way or another. Masquerading as science this industry operates on a basis of lies and ethical practices that would make the Mafia blush.

Dr Tana Dineen is herself a psychologist and lifts the lid on the racket from an insider's perspective.

Dineen targets psychiatrists as well as the other assorted therapists that infest our society. She warns that one of the biggest dangers comes from therapists whose training is so narrow they can only ever diagnose one problem because they have no broad training whatsoever.