Feb 012012

Regular readers will know I am both attracted to, and mortified by the froot-loopery of the radical right.

When I spotted @jeremysear’s comment on Twitter about Cory Bernardi’s blog, like a blowie to a fresh pat, I was drawn. From the perspective of someone who ardently opposes the extremes of the ideological divide from both ends of the spectrum, I was overjoyed to find that Bernardi’s brand of conservatism – not that I wasn’t already aware – to be precisely that of the fruit bats inhabiting #auspol. The whiney, whingey, bleating brand of conservatism that believes only those who follow its dogma will ever catch up with its karma. All others are destined to be reincarnated as “lefties” ad infinitum, or at least until they are suitable indoctrinated in one of their future lives and accepted into the fold.

Seriously, go have a read. You’ll chuckle a lot, as I did, but by the end of it, you’ll feel incredibly saddened by it. Saddened that any single individual can be so self-absorbed in their own blind-sided philosophy as to be totally unwilling to concede that other opinions, ideals and aspirations exist which challenge the validity of what Bernardi supports. Let’s break it down:

bernardi“At some point in the past few decades, the word ‘conservative’ became a pejorative slur. That’s because the few conservatives prepared to identify as such in public refused to bow down to the new orthodoxy of the left.”


A ‘pejorative slur’?. Did it? Take note of the kitsch graphic alongside this opening stanza, by the way. Genuine trash discussion forum stuff. It reads as if someone feels down-trodden, victimised, under-valued. Reads as if someone used to receive regular wedgies right the way through school. Reads as though someone actively supports, as we’ve noted from Menzies House, disingenuous statements in a bid to out-do their perceived ideological opponents. Those nasty, evil opponents who dare to declare that they have an alternate opinion on whatever.

From the ‘oh-woe-is-us’ opening, Cory branches into climate change denial, and baseless accusations attempting to connect the fiscal difficulties in the Eurozone with ‘leftist’ government policies surrounding alternate energy development. How? Why through subsidies of course! No hard data presented, no reports linked to (it is a blog after all, and we all know how the <a href…./a> tag works, right?) just the same tired claims that it’s the fault of the ‘lefties’. No consideration given to the fact that during Spain’s right-wing government pre-2004, for example, upwards of 16 differing solar and solar-related power generation projects were created and supported through development and construction phases. The left-wing Zapatero government simply continued the support until 2010, when subsidies to alternative energy generators were slashed. Why was government support removed? Certainly not because of re-newable energy projects. There was this event in 2007-08 called the Global Financial Crisis, which half the globe is still reeling from. Re-newable energy development had nothing whatever to do with instigation of the GFC.

After some irreverent, frothy-lipped and mandatory slagging of the ‘left’, Bernardi heads off on his coconut-sound-effect horse to slay the dragon of Big Government.

“Throughout history it has been demonstrated that any government that becomes too big eventually is forced to accrue a level of debt that cannot be sustained.”

Now there’s a fascinating symbiosis. Size of government being directly related to ‘level of debt’. No detail on what kind of debt. Net debt? Gross debt? Trade deficit debt? Budgetary deficit debt? Debt created to provide for essential public infrastructure? Debt as a measured proportion of Gross Domestic Product….what debt, Cory? This is a STRAWMAN argument. It could also be defined as a RED HERRING. That’s where I’ll leave my critique of that ludicrous claim, except to say that I am yet to hear, see or read a valid conservative argument against accrual of public debt which supports the creation of, or necessary maintenance & refurbishment of, essential infrastructure. Equally, I’ve NEVER seen an accurate definition of Big Government.

“Of course, the conservatives warned about the folly of centralising European bureaucracy and the monetary union of disparate economies when they were first proposed.”

Let’s put some facts on the table here. The EU owes it’s existence to the European Coal and Steel Community and the evolved European Economic Community, the former of which was mooted as early as 1950, five years after the cessation of hostilities in World War 2. The EEC came into being in 1958. The EU is primarily a trade collective and as anyone who has ever studied the North American Free Trade Agreement would know – monopoly control by the USA aside – trade collectives are powerful forces. Hence, the EU grew with neighbours of countries which were part of the EEC/EU wanting to join the collective, and benefit. Bernardi, once again, makes spurious claims of right-wing objections to the creation of the EEC/EU, yet he produces no evidence supporting his claim. I googled extensively & couldn’t find anything even remotely like what he was inferring, and drew the conclusion that the EEC/EU would never have begun back in 1950-1958, and been formalised in it’s present form in 1993, unless the individual governments of the day had reached agreement. Few of those governments were ‘leftist’ governments. But then, Cory Bernardi is clearly paralogising in a bid to incite the converted to greater heights.

The EU, as a federation of disparate nation states, is not perfect. Australia, as a federation of disparate states, is also far from perfect, yet I don’t see Bernardi castigating the right-wing State governments of Australia. Slimly linked analogies aside, again, Bernardi, as with the rest of his cohort, totally ignores the causes and impacts of the GFC. How convenient!

From this point forward, Bernardi tends to flail around from subject to subject, not actually touching any of them, but spraying over all of them. Multiculturalism, racism, religion, sport, and of course, socialism. Now, in this country of Australia, we have never seen this much promoted bogey-man governmental structure, socialism. Just as we’ve never experienced communism, stalinism, marxism or indeed any other related form of ‘ism’. We are a liberal democracy and by ‘liberal’ I don’t mean conservative, I mean liberal as in John Stuart MillJohn LockeMargaret Wollstonecraft kind of liberal. Liberalism as defined for this country by the Australian Parliamentary Library, is thus. The party of which Bernardi is a member today, is as far from the Menzies brand of liberalism as North Korea is from reasoned détente with the United States of America. Bernardi proudly declares himself to be a social conservative. I don’t know whether he’s the bible-bashing, anti-abortion kind of social conservative and frankly I don’t much care. It’s patently clear from his blog piece that he’s not at all reasoned, considered or dare I say, rational about his place in the grand political scheme in Australia. I’d even go so far as to label his brand of conservatism as rabid. Not what Australia needs as a liberal democracy, in my view.

I’ll round off with this observation. Seeded right through Bernardi’s rant, and that’s the kindest I can be about his offering, are references to ‘the left’(11), ‘leftist’(3), ‘socialism’ (2)& ‘socialists’(1). All of which are either meaningless attempts at pejorative, or utterly inaccurate assessments of what he perceives his opponents to be in philosophical terms. Yet, he begins his own piece by whining about the way some of his detractors use the word, conservative. That kind of behaviour is logically fallacious, being known as TWO WRONGS or SPECIAL PLEADING. A word to the wise, Cory Bernardi. Drop the wounded, offended persona because it’s unattractive and not at all complimentary. There are enough of your acolytes out there playing the self-righteous, denied, messiah. Learn how to write without devolving into irrelevancies and know what message you want to send. Seriously, your piece is disjointed blather, seasoned with hyperbole, marinated in bile and fried in vitriol. Maybe your kind enjoy that sort of delivery, but for me – a ‘leftie’ – you’re only preaching to the converted, when you should be selling your cause. Oh, and avoid Logical Fallacy……please?!!

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