Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yes Virginia, English history is a crucial part of Australian history & politics. A Marxist says so.

Came across this blog post by Strange Times: The English Civil War Is A Crucial Part of Australian History via Twitter.

As I read it I suspected that the blogger was something of a lefty, and indeed it appears he's some sort of Marxist. (Or is it she? I'm not sure.)

Does my heart good though to see an article in Crikey being described as "arrogant, dismissive and, frankly a joke" by someone of the old (older?) left that still believes in a discourse based upon rational argument, and not the modern 'pseudo-left's' (it's term, not mine) parading of assumed moral virtue as a substitute for reason.

It's this article in The Age, which reports comments on the proposed history curriculum by opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne, that started it all.

Mr Pyne will today accuse curriculum writers of neglecting the contributions of Britain, Ancient Greece and Rome to Western civilisation because of an undue emphasis on indigenous culture, Asia and sustainability.

This produced the previously mentioned response by Associate Professor Tony Taylor of Monash University in Crikey.

After criticising some aspects of Pyne's comments, Strange Times moves on to Professor Taylor:

However, the response in Crikey is arrogant, dismissive and, frankly a joke. Taylor’s lowest moment is when he says the English Civil War is “arguably just a series of confused and confusing localised squabbles that may have a special significance for UK history, but not for anybody else (unless they like dressing up in period costume).”

As the blogger says, nothing could be further from the truth for Australia (or for that matter, Canada or New Zealand). Our political and constitutional systems are built on the bedrock laid down by the consequences of the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Anyone with even a basic knowledge of how bourgeois Parliamentary democracy [I think that was the giveaway line that this person is a Marxist] works knows that this is ridiculous. Most of the assumptions behind it come directly or indirectly from that Civil War. The most important tenet of parliamentarism – the idea that only the parliament, not the executive on its own, may tax – is a direct result of the war and the main issue it was fought over. You can’t understand the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, which lead to the sacking of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, without understanding that crucial point.

But as Strange Times notes, the worrying thing is not that Taylor can be so wrong, but that this is a person "in a position to affect the curriculum of Australian schools."

And Taylor's basic point is not that Pyne is wrong, but rather he's an outsider. He's not part of the history club and therefore has no right to criticise what the club decides we should know.

What’s worst of all about this article is it carries on the smarmy pseudo-left habit of congratulating themselves that they must be right, because the slightly more right-wing ruling class party is against them. This is part of the nature of the bureaucratic pseudo-left; they push the line that their work must be done behind closed doors because evil right-wingers and the stupid populace they fool are too dumb to know what’s best for them. There is no sense at all of actually trusting ordinary people, of welcoming outside debate or being ready to submit their decisions to the judgment of the great unwashed.

We need to keep attacking the pseudo-left with this – with the idea that, while they parade their moral virtue, they are utterly unwilling to actually try to win public debates.

Had to chuckle at the implied description of people like Taylor and Crikey as only slightly less right-wing than Mr Pyne.

No comments: