Saturday, October 07, 2006

Robert Manne and Gerard Henderson on the culture wars

Lateline featured Manne and Henderson in a debate last night on the culture wars. Henderson was dismissive of the claims that Howard's side of the intellectual divide (yawning it appears to me) is laying all before it in the culture wars.

If true, this is good news, but the climate of public intellectual debate seems to belie this position. When intellectual giants like Andrew Bolt and Piers Ackerman are trotted out on the public broadcaster as cogent commentators and public debates are held between 'thinkers' of this ilk and so-called 'left-wing' intellectuals (that seems to mean these days anyone who disagrees with the neocons), Huston, we have a problem!

The right wing polemicists are dismissive of concerns over trashing pillars of the law such as habeous corpus and presumption of innocence, cruel and unusual interrogation techniques, use of torture, unilateral military preemption, highly selective adherence to international law, bullying the neighbours, hectoring aid recipients on good governance whilst turning a blind eye to the worst corruption scandal this country has seen.

The civil libertarian fellow travelers clearly just don't understand the new global rules. Bush and allies can basically do what they want in the name of freedom and democracy and in protecting national security. The new conservatives have developed a multi-layered construct to rationalise this new order. When large holes appear in the edifice (often in the form of forensic analysis and evidence) 9/11 is trotted out as the touchstone for all things 'right' and 'on message'. The threat remains and we must be on our guard!!

And Gerard looks sadder and wearier by the day (its a weariness born of having to explain himself constantly to us dullards) as he trots out his moth-eaten version of reality and repels all boarders from his reactionary bastion. Eventually he will have to face up to the fact that the neo-cons are a big con, and that their social darwinian mindset and reliance on the politics of fear is bad news for humanity as a whole and will be totally discredited. Even one-time intellectual band-wagoners like Francis Fukuyama are leaping off this lurching behemoth as the stench of corruption, human rights violations and flagrant abuse of executive power becomes overwhelming.

In the end, no amount of intellectual apologism will cover up the complete disaster the 'new order' folks have been for world stability and humankind. Of course, Gerard will not get it even then, and will just go on looking weary wise........

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