catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Paddy McGuinness and Joseph Goebbels

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Some thought-provoking comments from Michael Warby on the new role for Paddy McGuinness to vet research grants. And some mordant thoughts from the same source on the state of scholarship and intellectual integrity in the humanities and social sciences.

It does seem a regrettably ad hoc way of proceeding. What I find remarkable is that so un-ideological a Coalition minister as Brendan Nelson has taken such a step. It bespeaks a deep alienation of the Coalition from mainstream academe, one being expressed rather sooner than I expected.

If you are going to get someone to perform such a role, Paddy McGuinness was a sensible choice. He has a wide career in corporate life (Moscow Narodny Bank), journalism (former editor of AFR), and politics (senior staffer for Bill Hayden in the Whitlam Govt.) and edits a major journal of ideas. The complaint that he is a “cultural warrior of the right” can be dismissed, given on such grounds figures such as Stuart Macintyre, Michael Pusey, Robert Manne et al should be equally barred from participating in grant processes, since they are cultural warriors of the left.

On the corruption of scholarship.

Macintyre’s own effort in this area, chapter nine of his Concise History of Australia provides a subtler example of the problems. Macintyre remains clearly much more comfortable in talking about economic matters, and economic pressures policy-makers grappled with, than Pusey (perhaps a result of his Marxist background)… Yet, it is still an underlying story of goodies and baddies. The right has no good intentions, the views of economic liberals are still caricatured (A new theology arose, neoliberalism, and a distinctive Australian term for it – here it was called economic rationalism. It was remarkable not so much for its devotees’ capacity to incorporate almost every form of human behaviour into its syllogisms as for the assumption that there could be no other form of reason than the logic of the market p.246 and By conceding the economic arguments of the New Right, Labor still hoped to escape its ruthless repudiation of responsibility for the weak and the vulnerable p.250).

On this last point, I would invite people to name someone of their acquintance who is a member of the so-called New Right who has ruthlessly (or even not ruthlessly) repudiated responsibility for the weak and vulnerable. This is taking lies to a level that Goebells would have admired. I am thinking of the idea that has been attributed to Goebbels that a big lie can work better than a little one for propaganda purposes but I don’t find that in a quick scan of his principles.


Written by Admin

December 18, 2005 at 7:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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