catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Hairshirt Hamilton and the Christian Left

with 14 comments

Don Arthur has produced a good overview of the emerging Christian Left (and check out his masterful photoshopping). In the process Don links to this piece in the home of wishy-washy Christianity, Eureka Street:

    Traditionally, the churches have attended to and represented the deeper aspects of life, those that transcend the individualism, materialism and selfishness that so characterise modern affluent societies. It is in this transcendent concern that I believe we can find the roots of a new progressive politics
    …The old model of the “Left” is based on the idea that the principal problem of modern society is material deprivation. In a past era this was justified, but in rich countries like Australia the opposite is the case. So the model that many progressives have operated on is out of date and irrelevant. The principal social and personal problems we now face arise out of the sicknesses of affluence—over-consumption, wastefulness, materialism, selfishness, and loss of meaning
    People want firmer moral rules that apply to them and others, particularly ones that govern sexual and personal relationships. And in a way that’s the fundamental problem of modern society; it’s crucial for people on the progressive side of the fence to acknowledge these concerns and engage in moral debate, which means developing new foundations for moral law.
    economic issues are really moral questions rather than analytical ones. So we need a new politics of morality, one that is rooted in some of the traditional concerns of progressive people, in social justice, in the maldistribution of power, and the way in which that affects the capacity of people to pursue a truly fulfilling life
    giving free rein to the market very often leads to an erosion of moral values—the work we have done on youth and pornography and on the sexualisation of children is an illustration of that. So here’s a real contradiction in the heart of conservative politicians; it astonishes me that a moral hard-liner like Tony Abbott can resolutely refuse, time after time, to reign in the market forces that exacerbate the problems he complains about.

Here we find on one page most of Hamilton’s recurring concerns:

  • Poverty is no longer a big problem. All the big problems are caused by our being too rich
  • Even the traditional economic concerns of the Left are not really about reducing poverty anymore but about addressing ‘maldistributions of power’ which prevent us from leading meaningful lives i.e. advertisers who create the ‘wrong’ preferences for us, wrong at least according to Hamilton
  • There is an attempt as usual to wedge the Right, something which Kevin Rudd also recently tried on, by pointing to the contradictions between free market liberalism and conservatism. All of which seems to be premised on the idea that the Right has forgotten about personal responsibility (in this case of parents for their children).
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    Written by Admin

    November 1, 2006 at 7:25 am

    Posted in Uncategorized

    14 Responses

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    1. Some of that Eureka Street piece is really creepy, Jason. With some religious ‘values’ purveyors, they’re a bit like vampires: invite them into your house, and they’ll never leave.

      And what is it with individualism? Has it not occurred to them that some of us need individualism almost as much as we need air?


      November 1, 2006 at 8:00 am

    2. Religion is certainly alive and thriving today, isn’t it. As long as it doesn’t include God. Allah is OK – he’s a different bloke isn’t he? At least with Allah there’s none of this humbug about him being a woman!


      November 1, 2006 at 9:22 am

    3. for those who do not know what the old left thought of issues I suggest reading a bit of Richard Tawney.

      He was an old christian socialist , Methodist like many of the early British labour party.

      They would be considered quite conservative these days in the Sydney Anglican tradition and would recognise today’s Uniting brigade at all.

      What disappoints me of today’s pollies is the very poor debate we are seeing now between Rudd and Abbott.

      Bring Back EP at LP

      November 1, 2006 at 9:55 am

    4. I think Rudd’s real denomination is Kevinism, Homer. There is Method in his madness …

      Jason Soon

      November 1, 2006 at 10:01 am

    5. So much crap is talked about this and that attitude of the Right, and bad things (lack of care for the needy, greed, intolerance etc) that are alleged to be promoted by the conservatism of the Right or the neoliberalism of the Right etc.

      I know some people are bored by my insistence on the uselessness of the term Right as a label for people who are not Left but I still think it is important to make these points.

      It is possible to be a robust individualist and also to care about the sick, poor and suffering of the world.

      It is possible to support free markets and free trade, not just to create wealth but to economise the use of resources, to increase employment and to reduce the cost of goods for the benefit of everyone, especially the poor. At the same time the free trader can support voluntary charities and highly selective and targetted safetynet welfare. Not silly handouts and porkbarelling.

      If imbalance of power is the problem, again you turn to classical liberalism and minumum government, the rule of law, due process and the tradition of fair play and tolerance which has been eroded much more by the hard left and coercive utopians than by free traders and cultural conservatives.

      Rafe Champion

      November 1, 2006 at 10:42 am

    6. which is one of the reasons evangelicals usually support the party espousing those principles.

      Bring Back EP at LP

      November 1, 2006 at 10:45 am

    7. I fail to see how the piece is “realy creepy”. I thought it was an excellent piece. One of the things that I like about Eureka Street is that it is NOT a bunch of scary catholics pushing their religion on you. As i understand it, faith is an underpinning to what they do, but only one of many.


      November 1, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    8. “giving free rein to the market very often leads to an erosion of moral values”

      Here we have the left’s argument in a nutshell. Of course what it shoud say is: “giving free rein to government intervention in the market leads to an erosion of moral values.”

      Rococo Liberal

      November 1, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    9. giving free rein to the market very often leads to an erosion of moral values” is something Adam Smith would not argue with.

      Without Government intervention the market will be distorted by either oligopoly or monopoly which is disastrous for consumers.

      on the other hand Government planning leads to corruption.

      Bring Back EP at LP

      November 1, 2006 at 2:47 pm

    10. come on, Homer. You know perfectly well that’s not what Hamilton was referring to.

      Jason Soon

      November 1, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    11. Let me explian what Homer is saying so can understand, Jase.

      He is saying that unless you had Bill Clinton regulating the porn industry it there would be a moral problem with such an unfettered market.


      November 1, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    12. Edit sorry

      Let me explian what Homer is saying so you can understand, Jase.

      He is saying that unless you had Bill Clinton regulating the porn industry there would be a moral problem with such an unfettered market.


      November 1, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    13. Why does JC always refer to Bil Clinton perhaps because he actually implemented conservative economic policies!!

      Jase I was merely making the point you need a limited amount of government intervention for the market to work. Only a complete moron would believe the market cannot be distorted.

      Bring Back EP at LP

      November 1, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    14. Unlike Hamilton I actually believe in the market and want it to work.

      I remember when he had hair.
      Does anybody else?

      Bring Back EP at LP

      November 1, 2006 at 3:14 pm

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