Nov 012013
 

I used to think the Lowy Institute was a forward thinking collective. Clearly not, if the best they can muster to deliver their annual lecture series is Rupert Murdoch.

Australia should not be angst-ridden over its place in the world. Australia should seize its place in the world. We are not hapless victims of circumstance – we are people who define our own destiny.

So says Rupert at the beginning of his address. This, from a man who surrendered his Australian citizenship in order that he become a citizen of another nation which he assessed as more capable of delivering him greater wealth, profit and largesse. He is right in one aspect of that passage. Australian’s define our own destiny. We don’t surrender that which we hold most precious and we’re eminently comfortable with who we are, our place in the world and carry no angst over those issues.

Murdoch goes on:

For Australia is on the cusp of becoming something rare and valuable in this new world: an egalitarian meritocracy, with more than a touch of libertarianism

‘more than a touch of Libertarianism’. Anyone who truly understands this so-called ideology of Libertarianism knows full well it represents nothing more than anarchy dressed up in jingoistic pride. As for egalitarian meritocracy I doubt Murdoch understands what the word egalitarian means, let alone suppose that anyone should win out on the basis of merit. His concept of Libertarianism flies in the face of the genuine concept of egalitarianism, leading to only to a selfish, individualistic demand for ‘what I want’ as opposed to what is best for the greater good. Egalitarian Meritocracy is a dream which only pure socialism can ever hope to deliver, and as Marx & Engels admitted, pure socialism will never eventuate because of the innate greed in human nature.

I’ll draw some attention now to the persistent concentration conservative thinkers like Murdoch continually place on history, somehow believing that history reflects present day.

Australia had a long history before it became a British colony. But that colonisation created a large convict class, disproportionately Irish, and resulted in class pretensions that have lasted a long time. These pretentions include not only the stuffy, narrow-minded elitism that still exists in some small quarters of society, but more recently, the faux class war that has been stirred by contemporary politicians grasping for an election theme. Thankfully, Australia has emerged from its inauspicious colonial beginnings to become a proud nation, a nation that overcame those primeval prejudices. We have a perfect example: Many of you will remember a day when a Catholic was rare in a Liberal Cabinet. Those days are now behind us. And Prime Minister Tony Abbott is part of the proof.

So, Rupert believes that elitism no longer exists. How would he know, given that he is a self-defined elitist? He lives in another world, another country, another culture entirely. He doesn’t think as an Australian and has only one set of beliefs which are unshakeably conservative. Evidence Sky News, Fox and his News Limited networks espousing only one, singular world view, that of rampant, cyclopian, elitist conservatism. Australia today is in no way, shape or form related to the so-called predominantly Irish convicts of the 18th century. Australia is a vastly more diverse culture with innumerable belief sets and ideas. To even think of harking back to the religion-driven days of late 19th and early 20th century politics in this country is to betray the mind making such an expression. Old fashioned, stuck in the past, afraid of the future and inately conservative. Yes, we still have a class system in this country but it has nothing whatever to do with place of birth, heritage, religion or even education. Class in this country is defined by wealth. Those who have it, and those who don’t. The worker class, and the political class, the latter more and more aligning itself with wealth.

If there is one over-riding theme to Murdoch’s address it is his continual returning to history in order to explain today. He dwells on the past, World War 2, Frank Lowy’s heritage, convict Australia & colonisation. Not a word about the modern Australia, except when it comes to the inevitable self-promotion:

I have always been a firm believer in providing the public with choice and access to quality content—it was the driving force behind the launch of Sky, Fox News, and, particularly, The Australian. But when I think of the newspaper industry today, and the transition that has taken place from Gutenberg to Google, I know the status quo is being disrupted yet again. This is the hard reality of living in a global economy. Perhaps the most revolutionary disruption in the last decade has been the stunning growth of mobile communications. We take it for granted, but we now have access to knowledge almost anywhere in the world—instantly and at an affordable price. For a company like News Corp, that disruption has actually been a shot of adrenalin. Now, each and every one of us can have our news and information when and where we want it. For me, it’s right here in my pocket, on my iPhone, where I can get my Australian, my Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, and my personalised stock quotes, any time I want.

Of course, Rupert doesn’t have to pay to access his own paywall technology, knowing full well that only those who actually want to follow-the-leader along the conservative pathway will do so anyway. Class division, anyone? We all know the terrible bias of the News Corp outlets and it’s minions, little more need be said about this hypocrisy, save that it serves to highlight yet again the divisions between those who have the wealth & power, and those who do not.

In the final analysis, Murdoch is an anachronism. A mind out of time and place. A product of mid-twentieth century greed and opportunism attempting to project itself into the 21st century by promoting a singular ideological view upon a world of massive change. The rise of China and the death throes of the American Hegemony serve to highlight that change, yet here we have Rupert Murdoch attempting to tell we forward thinking Australians to get over our cultural cringe, think his way and we’ll all be better off for it.

Who is this man???!!