Much of what currently passes as conservative politics is dominated by reconstructed Marxists and bigots of various degrees of senility. Many of these congregate around the op-ed pages of an American newspaper that likes to call itself The Australian.
Others prefer glossier rags such as the pro-Creationist NZ-based magazine, Investigate. When it isn’t exposing members of Helen Clark’s Cabinet, this pseudo-conservative answer to New Idea spends much of its time promoting intelligent design or attacking conventional psychiatry.
I have always understood conservatism to be a way of thinking which frowns upon revolutionary change. Conservatives realise human beings are human beings, and that any agenda for change has to be gradual and based on a thorough understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the status quo. If it ain’t broke, fix it cautiously.
Real conservatism is inherently sensible. Sadly, so much of what one might find sitting on the desk of a Liberal or National Party MP’s desk is not real conservatism.
Much conservative policy-making these days treats human beings as pieces of computer hardware that merely require the right (or should that be Right?) ideological, policy and/or legislative software. With the proviso, of course, that the human beings involved are free of alien racial, ethnic, cultural or religious viruses.
Let me put it another way. There was a time when it was fashionable to be a SNAG, a Sensitive New Age Guy. Political correctness was all the rage. You developed policy that made you look and sound good to all the Arts-student cafe-latte chicks down at Newtown or Fitzroy.
Today, political correctness has been replaced with political erectness, a kind of macho ideology in which people mass-debate themselves into an ideological frenzy before unleashing themselves on anyone they deem un-desirable.
The focus is still on the cafe-latte set of Newtown and Fitzroy but, this time, the goal isn’t to please but to offend. In the age of raunch fashion, chasing after Arts chicks just takes too much hard work. Of course, the politically erect always make sure they hang to the Right, never to the Left. Liberal club chicks prefer it that way.
Thankfully, there are conservatives who realise that being conservative isn’t just a matter of proving your manhood. In this category I place Tony Abbott.
Abbott was a real conservative even when it wasn’t popular to be one such as during the last days of the Australian Union of Students, which he helped to dismantle.
Most conservative politicians (and ideologues, editors and columnists) think that the only way to prove you are really conservative is to reach positions on all issues that are completely opposite to what the Left has come up with. (And why should this surprise anyone? After all, so many of today’s so-called conservatives are just ex-Lefties trying to get somewhere in the world.)
Anyone who defines themselves by what they don’t stand for (as opposed to what they do stand for) is intellectually weak and deficient. When a conservative columnist attacks something just because it is expressed in a manner or has an outcome that someone on the Left might support, you can tell they aren’t a real conservative.
Abbott is perhaps the only member of the Howard Government who genuinely applies conservative thinking, even when the outcome is identical to that espoused by the Left.
Abbott’s positions on a range of issues have been sensible and cogently argued. For instance, when that backbencher-for-life Bronwyn Bishop decided to score cheap political points against women who choose to dress like the Virgin Mary, Abbott said it was not for governments to be regulating how women and girls dress, whether at school or anywhere else.
Similarly, in the debate over multiculturalism, he has taken a far more sensible approach than the PM (who appears to think he is still living in 1988) and the Treasurer (who is trying desperately to sound more like the PM than the PM himself).
Abbott’s address to the NSW Young Liberals in January this year is an example of sensible conservatism that reaches a sensible conclusion that also happens to be supported by many on the Left namely, that we are economically and socially better off maintaining and fostering our multicultural status quo than attempting to re-establish a monocultural colony.
(You can find the full text of Abbott’s speech in the March 2006 edition of Quadrant. A summarised version was also published on The Age‘s website.
Abbott’s position is a far cry from our current environment of lunatic hysteria, in which conservatism has become another name for monocultural stupidity of the lowest order, and facts are thrown out the window in favour of emotion-charged prejudice.
Now, of course, some will find my praise of Abbott a little rich, especially after his slip in Parliament when he claimed there were no more ‘real Australians’ in the ALP. Others will point to the fact that a fair number of Australian women believe Abbott’s agenda on abortion involves imposing his rosaries on their ovaries.
However, I must say that if I had ovaries, I would rather be governed by someone likely to recite Kyrie Eleison at me, than by some pseudo-religious, pseudo-conservative, senile, ex-Marxist bigot telling me to hate my neighbours for being born in the wrong place, or to prepare my kids to risk their lives fighting a futile war in someone else’s backyard while his kids grow fat and rich on kickbacks from the enemy.
Even if you don’t agree with everything Abbott stands for, you have to admit that the guy actually believes in something.
Abbott has something most Australian politicians lack: balls. And he doesn’t need to be politically erect to prove it.
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