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More Hairshirts

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In this age of the free market, the pursuit and acquisition of money at all costs is now considered more important than knowledge, values and commonsense. This is also the post-postmodern world, which apparently means there are no such things as objective knowledge, values and commonsense. How lucky is that? Short-term thinking has triumphed, so has greed, and the unstoppable driving force of our times is the belief that it’s all about me. (Which so very often devolves to: it’s all about me and what I can stuff into my pockets and bank accounts.) It’s amazing how fast a world can change when enough people learn to approach life like this.

Now Shelley Gare and the Australian are in on the act. Go here for the rest of it.

Written by Admin

November 4, 2006 at 3:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

24 Responses

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  1. And she sure as shit has it in for Paris Hilton…


    November 4, 2006 at 3:59 pm

  2. If only the people on the left, who have come to dominate intellectual life in recent decades, could have offered us more attractive and credible heroes than leftwing thugs like Che and others of similar ilk.

    That might have provided a countervailing force in favour of more admirable achievers in addition to sports folk, like explorers, scientists, serious academics and other assorted community servants.

    As I speak, I realise that the tide is turning, given the popularity of the Lord of the Rings and other hero sagas. There is still a market for heroes on the side of the god versus evil, it is just that the hard and trendy left have wheeled the scrum and made it hard to work out what is good and evil.

    Rafe Champion

    November 4, 2006 at 3:59 pm

  3. Fair enough Rafe:

    But look at what they are telling us.
    1. We shouldn’t cut domestic trees for timber and we shouldn’t import the stuff.

    2 We need to stop using coal, but ” nuke isn’t the answer”.

    Rafe these people want to see us starve to death.


    November 4, 2006 at 4:26 pm

  4. They’re economic nutjobs, JC – I don’t think anyone disputes that – but the whinges about cultural hollowness may have some import, although I’d need to see a lot more than this and Hairshirt Hamilton’s diatribes.


    November 4, 2006 at 4:30 pm

  5. “Doesn’t anyone realise this woman – who hated the sight of books but loved to spend and party – got her head chopped off? Or why?”

    If that’s Gare’s “analysis” of Marie Antoinette, she’s got guts calling Paris Hilton an airhead.

    Geoff Honnor

    November 4, 2006 at 4:47 pm

  6. That is a bit disturbing, Geoff. Sheesh.


    November 4, 2006 at 4:50 pm

  7. SL
    8% of the electorate are non thinking and give these lunatics their vote. Because of the voting system the ALP is forced to listen to these nimrods due to preferences. It therefore means they have an influence on policy in a roundabout sort of way, which is why they have to be systematically destroyed through reason and logic.

    They’re not just cute little pets that entertain our curiosity any longer. They are dangerous ideologues with evil intention.

    Go take a look at the Green Party manfesto and tell me that isn’t a friggin plan for total economic distaster. They would have us living poorer than the average Argentianian if they got the chance. Victorians may actually give these mental freaks the balance of power in the upper house.

    Take a look at Aunty Bob Brown next time he’s giving his 12 second sound bit. He looks like a deer in front of head lights. That’s because he seems smart enough to know that 99% of the shit he spouts is just that and realizes one day we’re going to catch to him.


    November 4, 2006 at 4:53 pm

  8. I’d just like to know how free-market economics managed to get itself such a shitty press. Now I’m an old leftie but I always knew there was a bunch of stuff there I just didn’t grasp. Then I went to law school and I had to study it, so I started to learn. However, there were people in my classes who thought Hayek was basically satan. Now where does that sort of crap spring from?


    November 4, 2006 at 4:56 pm

  9. “That is a bit disturbing, Geoff. Sheesh.”

    But entirely reflective of Australian journalism..

    Sofia Coppola’s movie on Marie Antoinette (which is the hook for Gare’s piece) is (allegedly) based on Antonia Fraser’s recent biography of the much maligned Queen which is a celebrated, groundbreaking reinterpretation of her.

    Gare is obviously too thick to have read Fraser, let alone researched the (admittedly tenuous) links between her book and Coppola’s film so she just regurgitates the misogynist, xenophobic pamphleteering bullshit that has circulated about MA since the eighteenth century.

    Geoff Honnor

    November 4, 2006 at 5:15 pm

  10. Envy and the the love of statism.
    Read the rant linked to. What’s the one thing that comes through that squalid piece of crap. Deep, dark envy.

    Democracy to a large extent has been corrupted. A bunch of people looking for power are always targeting the those to who they say, ” vote for me and I will take money away from this group and give it to you”.

    The electorate has the good sense to avoid this when it gets too extreme, but there are enough of these people around to vote in governments who do.

    The oz people don’t buy much of this. Labor is the worst perfoming leftist grouping in the western world as far as national elections go, which proves we are still healthy as a people….. slightly centre right.

    There was a harvard study done a few years ago reported in Reason mag. (where I read it, I think) that envy is the one most destructive forces in human nature.

    The study asked people questions like….
    Chose between:

    1 if you were given $10,000 and the person over there was handed $100,000

    2 if we to give you zero but the person over there lost $100,000,

    which would you chose.

    A high and very disturbiung number of people chose to receive nothing or lose money rather than seeing a stranger make a lot .

    It showed that we must be very mindnful of this strong negative force in policy decisions.


    November 4, 2006 at 5:22 pm

  11. Sl
    Free markets make many people wealthy and again this evil desire for equality gets in the way. The staist thing is also important becasue people especially the elite do not believe in spontaeous unmanaged markets can produce wealth.


    November 4, 2006 at 5:26 pm

  12. JC:

    i saw a similar study to that cited recently but the conclusion seemed to be that people weren’t rational in economic decisions and this would lead to market failure.


    November 4, 2006 at 6:56 pm

  13. What a bizarre rant. She’s really got it in for business though. I love this part though.

    A friend of mine, a middle-aged Jewish mother, commented on how many of the local community’s children were now choosing careers in the CBD. She said wonderingly, “Twenty years ago, Jewish kids were going to university to become doctors and lawyers. That’s just the way it was. Now, they want to go into the city. They see that’s where the money is being made.”

    How awful, rather than lining their pockets as lawyers and doctors as they should be they are doing in business.

    Steve Edney

    November 4, 2006 at 7:27 pm

  14. Doctors at least I can understand but LAWYERS (???!!!) We have too many of these transaction-cost inflaters as it is (sorry, SL).

    Jason Soon

    November 4, 2006 at 7:29 pm

  15. You won’t find me disputing that, Jason. I’ll repost my native title stuff if I have to reassert my libertarian credentials, despite the fact that all my lawyer friends think I’m being a traitor to the ‘firm’.



    November 4, 2006 at 7:37 pm

  16. I went to school with too many people who did medicine because of the prestige rather than a particular desire to practice medicine. While I think most of them became good doctors they probably would have made equally good business people and left the spots for people who really wanted to do medicine, but had slightly lower scores, and probably would have been at least as good.

    Steve Edney

    November 4, 2006 at 7:41 pm

  17. I just dispute that our money focus is due to more free enterprise.

    What about the 300% house inflation in the last twenty years or whatever it is?

    If we live in a system where we can never really have a foothold on the system without a house.

    And if only land goes up in value.

    So to get anywhere you have all these debts to pay off.

    And supposing also that the level of government depredation is what it is.

    Well what else CAN you think about but money. You’ve got bankers to the left of you grinning at you pulling in a fortune in interest.

    And you’ve got the tax man to the right of you. And you’re there stuck in the middle with the girl who of course typically is going to have to work as well.

    Naturally all you can think about is money. You are going to have a knot in your stomach the whole time.

    We ought not call this capitalism.

    We ought to call it inflation-tax-capitalism.

    Or really its the interventionist state thats doing it.

    Leaving just enough freedom to squeeze a bit more taxes out of us so that armies of people can write all these bullshit reports about CO2 being the problem.


    November 4, 2006 at 7:44 pm

  18. “I’d just like to know how free-market economics managed to get itself such a shitty press…(Hayek as Satan)…Now where does that sort of crap spring from?

    Simple. It comes from a partnership between the left and economically illiterate, anti-market conservatives. The creative writers got into the act as well to put a misleading message in the heart of English literature. That partnership was apparent almost 200 years ago when the factories attracted so much bad press due to the report of the Sadler committee, a wickely biased piece of work, like the Bringing Them Home report.

    The point is that the ideological battles of the last two centuries have involved at least three quite different clusters of ideas. The conventional notions of left vs right or capitalism vs socialism or labour vs capital are confusing rather than illuminating because they do not describe all the options that are available. In economic policy the free traders or economic rationalists represent a third party, quite distinct from socialists and conservatives who support very similar kinds of interference with markets, for much the same reasons, based on misreading of the lessons of the industrial revolution. Free traders have had to fight on two fronts and this accounts for much of the bad press and the seriously distorted picture of the free trade agenda that emanates from both the left and from many conservatives.

    Arthur Koestler wrote a really intereting essay called The Lion and the Ostrich to describe the split personality of the British, so dull in some respects and so ready to fight desperately in others. He reported that in the period 1950-55 British exports increased by 6 per cent while those of the Common Market grew by 76 per cent. The comparative figures for the following five years were 13 per cent and 63 per cent. Through the 1950s no industrial nation had a lower growth of per capita output than Britain and the growth of the national income of the Common Market countries doubled that of Britain.

    The British decline was the result of a long process and it has been suggested that England was the wrong place to lead the industrial revolution because the upper classes were hopelessly biased against manual work (indeed against paid work of any kind – recall the segregation of the professional cricketers), against wealth (unless acquired by inheritance) and against trade, industry and enterprise generally. Many of the new magnates bought country estates and blended into the old aristocracy, hoping that their past would be forgotten, quite unlike the US where self-made men were proud of their achievements and were happy to celebrate them in public.

    The genteel middle classes and especially the literarati came to share the views of the aristocracy and the radical critics of trade and industry. Charles Dickens is just one of a galaxy of writers, poets, cultural commentators and even historians who failed to understand the nature of the processes that were at work and misrepresented either explicitly or by implication the reasons for the comparatively tough living conditions of the factory workers and other urban dwellers. The qualification ‘comparative’ is important because the baseline for comparison was usually the situation of the well to do, or else a sentimental and unrealistic image of the lifestyle of rural villagers and farm workers.

    The case of Charles Dickens is instructive because he has lent his name to the “Dickensian horrors” of the time and because he actually experienced some manual work, unlike most of the educated commentators. Like the case of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, it is instructive in a different sense than that intended by critics of the system. Dickens spent 6 months at the age of 12 in a small blacking (boot polish) factory, owned by a relative, where he earned six shillings a week, working with a team of boys pasting labels on tins. This was a tragic decline for Dickens who had been living in ease and comfort because his father (John) enjoyed an income of 350 pounds per annum in the Navy Pay Office. Dickens senior had ideas above his station, possibly because he grew up in contact with the grand house of Lord Crewe where his father was the head butler. John Dickens and his wife habitually lived beyond their means and they spent almost six months in Marshalsea debtors prison until a relative left a legacy that paid off the creditors. For some reason Charles was not immediately released from the job and he believed that his mother actually wanted him to stay on, presumably because he was supporting himself with his earnings. A system where a 12 year old child can do that is not all bad.

    During those months Charles visited his parents daily but he lived in desperate uncertainty about his future. The experience was so traumatic that the theme of the abandoned child is a recurring motif in his books. The horror of the experience had nothing to do with the work itself which was light, safe, and indoors. It was the violent reaction of a highly imaginative child to the sense of being betrayed by his mother and father, and “cast down” from his proper station in life. This was entirely the fault of his parents and it had nothing to do with his own working conditions or the industrial system at large. When Charles left the factory he completed his secondary schooling with three years in a private college.

    In considering the conditions of the urban workers it is essential to check some aspects of the evidence that is tendered. First, ensure that the evidence was actually contemporary. Hutt reported that it was common for critics of the factories to make use of evidence and observations from previous decades, as though nothing had changed in the meantime. Second, take account of the options that were open to the workers and consider whether they would have been better off somewhere else, if indeed employment was available elsewhere.

    As a result of propaganda from radical agitators “below” and the prejudiced literati “above”, the relationship of cause and effect between free markets and welfare became inverted and free markets have been blamed for practically every economic ill that afflicts the human race, from the suffering of the workers in the eighteenth century to the Great Depression.

    Arthur Koestler’s essay, is a sharp-eyed outsider’s account of the way that the spirit of enterprise in Britain was ground down between the millstones of trade unionism and the prejudices of the upper classes. He described the split personality of his adopted countrymen. “The Englishman strikes one as a hybrid between a lion and an ostrich. In times of emergency he rises magnificently to the occasion. In between emergencies he buries his head in the sand. [This] guarantees that a new emergency will soon arise”.

    Koestler escaped from Portugal, spent six weeks in Pentonville Prison as an illegal entrant and then joined the Alien Pioneer Corps to “dig for victory” on vital defence works. The foreigners in the Corps were “too keen” because they objected to the ritual tea breaks which involved marching back to barracks, losing hours of valuable digging time. The CO insisted that they would have to take the tea breaks, otherwise the British Pioneer Corps and the local trade unions would raise hell. This was a few months after Dunkirk, under the threat of German invasion.

    In the course of digging for freedom and later in the Ambulance Service Koestler discovered a great deal about the lower strata of the working classes and he came to understand something of the cold class war that divided England. This was nothing like the Marxist class consciousness that he knew intimately from his involvement with the militant Socialist parties of Europe.

    I soon learned that the world is divided into Them and us. The “T” is capitalised, the “u” is not. Politics hardly entered into this attitude; instead of the fierce class hatred which had scorched the Continent with revolutions and civil wars, there was a kind of stale, resentful fatalism. I learned to conform to our unwritten Rules of Life: Go slow; it’s a mug’s game anyway; if you play it, you are letting your mates down; if you seek betterment, promotion, you are breaking ranks and will be sent to Coventry. My comrades could be lively and full of bounce; at the working site they moved like figures in a slow-motion film or deep-sea divers on the ocean-bed. The most cherished rituals of our tribal life were the tea-and-bun breaks, serene and protracted like a Japanese tea ceremony.

    Some of my buddies came from the slums; some of them had been taught as children to use cupboard drawers for chamberpots. The majority were a decent lot, with untapped human potential buried under the tribal observances.

    Writing in 1963, he reported that the improved standard of living since the war had given the working classes the consumer goods and comforts of the middle class but the frontier between the two civilisations (he almost wrote two nations) remained in place. One side embraced a complex social pyramid with multiple subdivisions but a common commitment to some basic aims and values, mostly to do with gracious living or its outward appearance. The other side will have none of it, least of all aspirations for success.

    In his view the British working class had become an immensely powerful, non-competitive enclave in a competitive society and most of that ethos derived from the culture and methods of the trade union movement. Koestler instanced the need for the socialist government in 1946 to call in the army to maintain food supplies during a strike by London transport workers. Another item in his ‘This England’ file was a strike by railwaymen at Southampton because they were no longer permitted to have their hair cut by railway employees, in railway time, on railway premises. Other items were more alarming.

    In 1956 a Merseyside dispute between joiners and metal-workers about who should drill the holes in aluminium sheets led to a strike which lasted six months and attracted national attention. It was regarded as a kind of music hall joke, an endearing quaintness of characters out of Dickens. Two years later, The Times reported that four hundred men had to be dismissed as redundant, eleven thousand were threatened with the same fate, that production on three vessels and a submarine had to be postponed indefinitely because the boiler-makers and the drillers could not agree who was entitled to use five stud-welding guns designed to weld nuts and thimbles to metal plates. It then transpired that the use of this quick and efficient method had been prevented by this dispute between the two unions for the last twelve years.

    Two vivid memories come to mind. First a scene in Modern Times where Charlie Chaplin, after several hours spent at the moving assembly belt going through the same sequence of three or four jerky motions, keeps repeating them like a wound-up automaton after the belt has stopped moving. The second is a television interview with two young Merseyside workers, occasioned by one of those demarcation disputes about who should drill the holes. Asked by the interviewer why they were opposed to young people learning more than one skill, to acquire more knowledge, flexibility and all-round understanding of the production process, the young lads rigidly, stubbornly, repeated: “Because that would lead to unemployment. We don’t want to be pushed about. We remember 1929.”

    They did not, of course, remember 1929, only what their elders had told them and their union leaders had taught them. It was the sacred doctrine that the man who lays the cold-water pipes must not be allowed to lay the hot-water pipes, the man who makes the cable must not be allowed to make the casing for the cable, a doctrine which holds up as an ideal the narrowing of a man’s potentialities, his rigid specalisation in a single, mechanised, automatic routine – his reduction to a robot. Chaplin’s nightmare has become the boilermaker’s wish dream.

    In 1980 Koester reprinted this essay in a collection titled Bricks to Babel with a short postscript.

    Since Suicide of a Nation? was published in 1963, the downward trend has accelerated, while the underlying causes which it attempted to indicate have become more visible. The ostrich’s tail displays an occasional nervous twitch – but there is no sign to date of the lion rising to the occasion.

    He did not realise as he wrote that the lioness had arrived!

    This is out of his paper on Bill Hutt’s demolition of a heap of myths about industrial relations and the trade union movement.

    Rafe Champion

    November 4, 2006 at 7:47 pm

  19. Okay, that is disturbing, Rafe. I’m not sure why, it just is.

    (runs away to think for a while).


    November 4, 2006 at 8:15 pm

  20. It is disturbing because so many intelligent and apparently well educated people could be so wrong for several generations.

    It just shows that religion is not the only domain where superstitious and irrational beliefs survive practically unchanged for centuries.

    Rafe Champion

    November 4, 2006 at 8:26 pm

  21. I do know my brother resigned from the AMWU over pointless demarcartion disputes. He’d been the shop steward before that, so it meant something.


    November 4, 2006 at 8:30 pm

  22. Taking up the “underdog” issue from the other thread, Bertrand Russell wrote an essay ‘The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed’, published in the collection titledUnpopular Essays. He exposed the silliness of the progressive intellectuals who supposed that all manner of wisdom and virtue could be found among the poor and downtrodden who were generally far away and out of sight. He noted that their illusions were generally destroyed by contact with the various groups and so they had to keep looking further afield, from the local poor, to the rural peasantry of foreign lands, to the noble savages of Africa and elsewhere.

    This theme has been pursued in a fine book by Roger Sandall that I reiewed in Policy.

    Rafe Champion

    November 4, 2006 at 8:31 pm

  23. test


    November 4, 2006 at 10:10 pm

  24. Rafe

    On the face of it the left wingeres brought a great nation down. And yet …

    We all know that the US is the most powerful and influential nation on Earth. Which nation is number 2? Russia? Economic basket case with a falling population. France? ditto. China? They make a lot of goods,but nobody likes or trusts them. India? Too poor. Canada? Too puny and lefty Australia? Much better than Canada, but still too small. Germany? In economic meltdown and can’t control it’s own currency.

    Step forward Britain?

    Rococo Liberal

    November 6, 2006 at 12:39 pm

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