Commentary on Political Economy

Tuesday 4 May 2021

Incisive comment by Kelly. What most conservative commentators (as in the WSJ, notably ) struggle to understand is...why the haute bourgeoisie - the largest corporations from Amazon to Uber -  all unflinchingly support the leftie Great Awokening.  The blinding irony is that...the lefties themselves are entirely clueless on the subject ! Finally, today, Ross Douthat at the NYT came close to an answer by suggesting that the reason why even the CIA (the CIA!) espouses wokeness is leaves the establishment exactly as it is!

I would go a step further :  not only do these imbeciles leave the system as it is; they also and above all else distract publics from the matters that really count! Cost of living, lower real wages, precariousness, falling social and cultural standards....Ciao. 

PM’s faith in power to rally quiet Australians

Sooner or later it was bound to happen. Scott Morrison in two recent speeches not only has explained his religious faith but also has drawn the battlelines for the contest of values that will shape the election next year.

Progressives in the media and politics are obsessed about the Prime Minister’s faith as a Pentecostal Christian and convinced this is his vulnerability. But the evidence is against them. In these speeches Morrison, contrary to media commentary, enshrined his faith as a catalyst for the good society, then targeted progressives at their weakest point — their ideological pursuit of identity politics.

The 2019 election revealed that attacking Morrison’s faith was a failed tactic. Encouraged by a social media pile-on, Bill Shorten tried by daring Morrison to declare “gay people will not go to hell” — a ploy ALP colleagues warned Shorten against. Labor knows it blundered, but whether it has the discipline to avoid a repetition is debatable.

While an element of progres­sivism has a religious base, the legions of the progressive move­ment are hostile to religion and conspicuously hostile to Christianity. The great political event of our age is the schism in the left across Western societies triggered by the rise of a progressivism that repudiates classical lib­er­alism and its view of human nature. This view was informed by Judaeo-Christian tradition, the honouring of each individual made equal in God’s image, such that all people can live together regardless of race or creed.

For progressives, campaigning against Morrison’s religion is integral to their DNA. In their deformed view of faith it is anti-science but, above all, it must be assaulted because it is fundamental to the West’s cultural tradition. Progressives see that tradition in terms of a racist, sexist, white supremacist, violent past that must be swept away in the march to a society anchored in individual self-expression and being the real “me”, the zenith of narcissism.

Many of the “quiet Australians” whom Morrison invoked have only more reason to be worried about what is happening to their society as elitist progressives in powerful positions conduct their experiments in ideological change. You don’t need to be religious to be alarmed as people are lectured that gender is a cultural, not a biological, construct; as children face a curriculum that seeks to purge the nation’s authentic history from the schoolroom; and as individuals speaking against woke values are silenced or penalised.

The widespread view of the 2019 election is that it was all economics and nothing to do with values. That’s not what Morrison thinks. Shorten ran on progressive values virtually every day for five years. The public’s acceptance of same-sex marriage created a false reality — that Australians were converted to the progressive agenda. People gave Morrison a win because they trusted him more on the economy and values, and distrusted Labor’s agenda for radical change.

Progressives have been demanding that Morrison explain his faith. The response from the past fortnight is predictable: prejudiced media coverage, social media hysteria and abject ALP confusion with leader Anthony Albanese saying he wouldn’t criticise Morrison’s religion while implying something bad was happening in the separation between church and state. The suspicion is rife that Morrison’s Pentecostalism somehow risks the secular order.

So what did Morrison say? In his private speech to the Australian Christian Conference, leaked by the Rationality Society, Morrison invoked the power of prayer, his belief in prayer and the need for a moral society where the focus is “not on you but on the person next to you” because “this is the essence of community”.

Embracing the views of the late rabbi Jonathan Sacks, one of the great religious thinkers, Morrison said freedom must be underwritten by morality, otherwise freedom was endangered — an idea passed from the Enlightenment to the American founding fathers to English liberals of the 18th and 19th centuries.

“You can’t replace community with governments, with the markets,” Morrison told his audience. “You can’t replace the family. You can’t replace marriage. The essence of morality is not what others will think it is, about sexuality, and all of these issues. It’s about the dignity and value of each and every human being. You cancel out one human being and you cancel community because community is just human beings that God loves.”

This was a homily about community and faith. Its theme was that the individual created in God’s image was the basis of a strong community. Morrison confided in his audience — he revealed his vulnerability, how in the last campaign he got discouraged and began asking God “where are you?” and how he found hope in the image of a soaring eagle.

“The message I got that day was, ‘Scott, you’ve got to run to not grow weary. You’ve got to walk to not grow faint.’ ” Morrison prayed, he looked to God, and he felt God answered. This has been the Christian practice for two millennium. It will remain the practice as long as Christianity exists. And would you believe — this is not an attack on 21st-century secular society! Many Australians pray in their own way, to one god or another, to one spirit or another, to one departed father or mother.

Mocking Morrison’s religion or peddling the caricature that he claims to have a phone line to God is the staple of progressive prejudice. But if you dishonour one person’s faith you dishonour the faith of others. People understand this.

This leads directly to Morrison’s second speech given to the Jewish community when he again invoked Sacks and said the notion of “human dignity” lay at the heart of his faith. “Everything else flows from this,” he said.

He drew two morals of political significance. First, that human dignity meant taking greater personal responsibility, that a community cannot function without personal responsibility for how we treat others. Second, Morrison said the full expression of human dignity was under assault by “the growing tendency to commodify human beings through identity politics”.

For Morrison, the individual is “more than your gender, your sexuality, your race, your ethnicity, your religion, your language group, your age”. In his earlier speech he said identity politics was fuelling tribalism, community division, and was “corroding and desensitising our country and our society”.

This is a moral assault on identity politics. Indeed, Morrison brands it “an evil thing” in the way it diminishes the person and corrodes society. This puts him on a collision course with progressive ideology and its view of human nature. It also puts him on a collision course with much of the nation’s elite that runs the identity agenda and promotes the debasement of our culture.

Morrison speaks as a political leader advancing a moral argument. It is an argument many Australians, almost certainly most, will accept to one degree or another. Progressives will join this fight. As for Labor, it has a serious problem.

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