I can best explain my temporary absence from these pages by saying that I agreed to write a ‘short’ book during January – ‘short’ meaning 16,000 words – which is roughly 4 months’ worth of weekly articles for this highly worthy magazine.
The point of my new book is to explain why virtually all of the established tenets of post-modernism – which in reality is just a polite verbal cover-up for neo-Marxism – are basically disastrous not just for ‘our’ Western civilisation in general but more specifically for people like us. That is precisely what Marx intended of course. Indeed, he clearly stated that he wished to bring Western civilisation to its knees. What he proposed in place of the latter was a socio-political system which has already proved the most disastrous in human history. But why should we in geographically remote Australia bother our heads about a ‘mere’ 100 million deaths brought about elsewhere directly by Marxism – or by Communism if you prefer that term? After all, all of that slaughter and oppression happened somewhere else rather than in our supposedly ‘lucky’ country. Indeed, why should Australians bother themselves by making any attempt any more to understand ‘real’ international history at all? In any case, very little chance exists today of studying such at any current Australian university. Our universities have, in the words of my late mother, ‘other fish to fry’.
As one of the Western world’s more distinguished thinkers Sir Roger Scruton remarked in his recent book Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left (Bloomsbury 2015): ‘Why is it that after a century of socialist disasters and an intellectual legacy that has been time and again exploded, the left-wing position remains, as it were the default position to which thinking people automatically gravitate when called upon for a comprehensive philosophy? Why are right-wingers marginalised in the educational system, denounced in the media and regarded by our political class as untouchables, fit only to clean up after the orgies of luxurious nonsense indulged in by their moral superiors?’.
The latter are questions which some who appear regularly in these pages do their very best to answer with wit, intelligence and aplomb yet in the meantime post-modernism’s effective stranglehold on our society continues to grow. Sir Roger Scruton is, of course, one of the better thinkers of our age. What I personally like most about him is the way he argues point by point very patiently with the indulged left-wing would-be philosophers of our time then suddenly demolishes them utterly in a sentence or two. I first met then plain Roger Scruton 28 years ago at the funeral of English art critic Peter Fuller when the sole ‘red’ thing about him was the still blazing colour of his hair. He still sets standards which the rest of us can only try to emulate but I recently feel some of the better regular writers in The Spectator Australia are getting closer by the day. Thus in a recent article Christopher Akehurst urged the Catholic Church here to stop apologising for the historic misdeeds of a few and to fight its corner again with proper resolve. I make a similar point in my forthcoming book – for the forces that create a civilised society need all the help they can get. Too often these days we find ourselves in the gallant but tragic position of the Polish cavalry who faced German tanks at the start of the Second World War.
The Spectator Australia, Quadrant and Annals – Australia’s oldest Catholic magazine apart, the opposition to Australia’s growing left-wing propaganda machine is both limited and hugely underfunded. Indeed, just a few years ago the Literary Board of the Australia Council deprived Quadrant of its small annual grant for the first time. What does that tell us about the Australia Council? No need to say what kind of causes that body favours itself with the unagreed backing of the public’s money. I made that same point regularly over forty years ago in my first book The Art of Self Deception. State funded-art everywhere still pursues the same unwanted, unworthy, heavily politicised goals.
The late Percy Grainger, who taught my late mother-in-law to play the piano, is arguably Australia’s foremost musical composer but how exactly would you rate him in comparison to Handel, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, say? Australia really does lead the world in certain branches of medical research but certainly not in other fields that are also of crucial importance. Who, so far, has been our greatest painter? A toss-up between Streeton and Nolan perhaps? The Western civilisation which the neo-Marxists in our midst are so anxious to destroy produced Titian, Velázquez, Rembrandt and Vermeer over quite a short space of time.
The Culture Wars in which many of us have been involved for some while are not some pillow-fight in the dormitory of a boarding school for girls. Our enemy is very clear about its aims. After the raging success of same-sex marriage, an all-out assault on Australia Day is clearly next on their list – and much of this will be, as always, achieved with public money.
Those few of us with contrary voices need to be organised more like a commando squad than a knitting circle. How is the Ramsay Foundation getting on these days? One of the first things it needs is probably a library full of intellectually tough books similar to the library I own myself. My library also includes most of the voices of those who have most strongly opposed all of us – including me – from the early 1960s onwards. Knowing thine enemy is, very sensibly, the first rule of war.
The battle that is being fought today is both for the soul and the entire future of Australia. Ours was once a pretty decent country and – God willing – could yet be so again.