All manner of modern manias are consuming Australia, and the way to fix this is to stand for reality.
Among the many classic scenes in Life of Brian is the argument over gender between the John Cleese and Eric Idle characters: “I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me Loretta … (because) it’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them”.
Eventually all agreed that the Idle character had the right to have babies because it was “symbolic of our struggle against oppression”, notwithstanding Cleese’s wry conclusion that it was really “symbolic of his struggle against reality”.
That 1979 skit would be impossible today with even the Australian Breast-Feeding Association now referencing “chestfeeding”, lest a micro-aggression be committed against lactating men.
Along with the gender fluidity craze, there’s also the climate cult, which demands that Australia stop using coal, even though there’s no certainty that carbon dioxide emissions are the main climate change villain.
There’s the virus hysteria that’s closed state borders, turned chief health officers into unelected and unaccountable legislators, and kept Australia shut off from the wider world more or less indefinitely because eliminating every Covid case has become the metric against which all governments are judged.
And now there’s the vaccine anxiety that limits our ability to put the virus hysteria behind us.Plus there’s magic pudding economics, whereby governments supposedly can borrow and spend indefinitely via ordering reserve banks to buy bonds at close to zero interest rates.
And worst of all, there’s the cultural diffidence, tending to self-loathing, which holds that the most free, the most fair and the most prosperous societies on earth are somehow riddled with racism and other forms of systemic injustice.
As Australians, it’s still the case that all of us have won the lottery of life. And we’re lucky that our governments, here in NSW and in Canberra, are about as good as they come in these times.
But we do have a challenge: not only to try to ensure that things don’t get worse, but to do what we can to make them better.
It’s hard to win an election as a climate sceptic, though, if man-made climate change has become a virtual religion; or to support the US alliance if the Black Lives Matter movement has convinced people that America is a racist country; or to be an advocate for budget responsibility, if the main test of good government has become how much it spends on every social program.
Beyond the argument over policy, and directing and shaping it from a distance, lies the struggle over culture– which conservatives have taken for granted while the left has been on its long march through the institutions.
Hence the question, always posed at every gathering of conservative-minded people: “How do we turn this politically correct tide?”
That tide seems to dominate so much of the media and is largely unquestioned by our children and grandchildren – often with the implication that, for us, like Canute, it’s mission impossible.
Because “facts are conservative”, as Margaret Thatcher once observed, I’m confident that the current politically correct indulgences will eventually fall foul of reality.
But we shouldn’t have to wait for tougher times to knock us back to common sense.
There’s no reason why a Liberal or National education minister – any one of the three state Coalition education ministers or the federal minister – couldn’t simply veto the new national curriculum that threatens to make a bad situation worse.
These documents have to be adopted by consensus, so let’s just say: “It’s wrong. Tear it up and start again”.
And in the process, scrap the three cross-curriculum priorities that mean every subject is supposed to be taught from an Indigenous, Asian and sustainability perspective – because while there’s certainly a place, even a big one, for Indigenous, Asian and environmental studies in schools, what makes these (rather than Christianity, say) the elements that should pervade everything?
But there’s really only one way to end the politically correct indoctrination that’s been subtly and not so subtly washing around us for years, and that’s to provide an alternative.
If enough people stand up for common sense, for a rigorous education that distinguishes what we actually know from what we might merely believe, then things will gradually change for the better.
This is where the Centre for the Australian Way of Life has such potential. It won’t run schools and train teachers, but it will inform, enlighten and inspire people about how we live as Australians and what’s made us who we are.
Yes, Australians believe in the fair go, but you can only expect to get a fair go if you’re prepared to give a fair go, too. It aims to give the “Quiet Australians” a voice, not just on polling day but 365 days a year.
One of our early projects will be to propose an Australian canon, to complement the broader Western canon – the great books of Australian civilisation, if you like: the literature, the art, the movies, the central personalities and the historical episodes that every Australian should know.
If nothing else, nominating an Australian canon should remind people of the treasures available to anyone who wants to understand how we came to be the country that millions of would-be immigrants find so appealing. It will be our way to proclaim that this is a country to be proud of – and that the more we build on its strengths, the better it will be.
There’s only one way to end the politically correct indoctrination that’s been subtly and not so subtly washing around us, and that’s to provide an alternative