George Jonas: Our one-night stand with freedom

 FrontAs the west slowly but surely turns over what last remnants of freedom exist to the new dictatorship of the latte elite, one wonders where freedom went, what happened to it, and why.

However, we should ask ourselves whether the west ever truly embraced freedom, or whether the French revolution merely marked one unelected mob of elitist snobs taking over from another.

This piece in the National Post by George Jonas considers this very point.

So, are we throwing freedom away, or did we never even know freedom to begin with.

I'll let you decide.

I wrote in a recent column that individual liberty diminished during the last half-century while state intrusion into people’s business and private affairs increased. A reader demanded examples. This intrigued me. The growth of the administrative state in the last 50 years has been no less noticeable than, say, advances in medicine. Yet if I had written “medical know-how has advanced since the war” I doubt if any reader would have demanded examples.

I guess that’s because medical advances are welcome, but increased government and decreased liberty aren’t. Many are bothered by decreased liberty, but those who like government — yes, there are such people — worry that it’s not increasing quickly enough. Why, it’s scandalous that anyone can still get a canary without a licence.

We in the West are gung-ho to export democracy, but sometimes it seems we’re keen to ship it overseas mainly because we’ve not much use for it ourselves. We go through these Mao-jacketed phases when we export democracy and import tyranny. Perhaps before exporting democracy wholesale, we should try it at home.

All right, this is just a wisecrack, but what comes next isn’t. We went from pre-democracy directly to post-democracy, leaping over democracy on the way. In 18th-century France, after removing the King’s head from the body politic, the revolutionaries replaced it with their own. Liberty’s children began building their brave new world by turning Reason into a deity. That’s when the state turned into a secular theocracy, worshipping shibboleths of its own making as though they were divine revelations.

Contemporary “politically correct” democracies do likewise, missing only the actual figure of a scantily clad Goddess of Reason. Short of that, modern Western societies worship their own ideologies with a theological rigidity, often accompanied by legal sanctions reminiscent of Saudi Arabia.

When it comes to our ideas of blasphemy, we can be as unbending as any Wahhabi sheik. Only our punishments are milder. We don’t chop off the hands of university presidents who offend our state religion of feminism; we merely send them into the outer darkness. (The chattering sound you heard a few years ago was Harvard president Lawrence Summers gnashing his teeth.)

Aren’t Western societies still freer than outright theocracies or dictatorships, like Cuba or North Korea? Of course they are. Are they free, though? Not really. They aren’t free, not just compared with some mythical absolute, but with their own past.

The world had a one-night stand with freedom. She came in the late 19th century and went in the early 20th. Even the citizens of semi-constitutional monarchies, such as Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany, were freer in the pre-World War I era than the income- and consumption-taxed inhabitants of the European Union are today. They were certainly freer in terms of individual expression, enterprise and mobility than the photo-ID’d, hate-crime-muzzled, gun-registered, dog-tail-length-regulated, smoke-freed and body-searched citizens of the interventionist democracies are in our times, Canada included.

Examples? How many do you want? In the narcosis of “progress,” the liberal state clings to its dogmas, sacrileges, holy things and taboos. It guards them as jealously and enforces them as rigidly as the Taliban guards and enforces its version of Islam. Maybe it doesn’t enforce them as cruelly — maybe.

Exaggeration? You decide. In the year 1300, a period we call the Dark Ages, a pig was tried for blasphemy in France. In the year 2000, 200 years into the Age of Enlightenment, on the threshold of the 21st century, in the United States of America, the authorities charged a six-year-old boy with sexual harassment for kissing a six-year-old girl.

True, in the Dark Ages few were scandalized; in the Age of Enlightenment, there were many. The pig faced the death penalty if convicted, while the six-year-old didn’t — perhaps I should say “probably didn’t” because who’d predict what people who charge six-year-olds with sexual harassment may do. Nor was this a unique event. Some years later in Brockton, Mass., another six-year-old was suspended for touching a classmate’s skin in violation of the school’s sexual harassment policy. No charges were laid, but the school principal notified the police, the Department of Social Services and the District Attorney’s office. No, he didn’t contact the United Nations for some reason. Later the boy’s parents sued and the school district settled for an undisclosed sum.

While this is a happier ending than registering six-year-olds as dangerous sex offenders, it illustrates the neo-medieval ambiance of the liberal-fascist state. No doubt the expression will offend some who have no trouble practicing liberal-fascism, but are too sensitive for the word. In democracy-exporting countries there’s usually a berth for them in the sheltered workshops of human rights commissions that continue to offer safe environments for the fragile psyches of liberalism’s Gestapo.

“Enough, Jonas!” My classics master has always been a calming influence and now I hear his voice. “Settle down. You’re such a simian. Remember, temperance is a virtue; temper is a vice.”

“Please, sir, they demand examples, sir…”

He must be gone, for there is no answer.

Australian Filmmaking: Entertainment or Cultural Propaganda?

Jason casual (square 4x4cm)Australia produced the world's first feature film in 1906 about the Kelly gang. We then had a mini boom in 'bushranger' films. This ended when the government banned production of all bushranger films due to a perceived 'civil unrest' they were causing. The Australian film industry died as a result. Soon after this, the government began funding films themselves and today almost every Australian feature film is government-funded.

A century later and the government has not relinquished control of the film industry. It has even extended its influence by funding absolutely every aspect of the filmmaking sector including film festivals, film schools, film publications, film distributors, film festival junkets and film industry awards. You name it – they fund it.

Screen Australia, the central government filmmaker, says it “will promote an environment where… screen content contributes positively to the cultural fabric of Australian society”. Screen Australia Charter of Operations 2010-2011

Simon Crean, Minister for the Arts, said, “The more we invest in those sorts of things (the arts), the better citizenry we develop”. Annual government arts spending is in the billions.

One of Screen Australia’s stated priorities is to invest in films that are “culturally relevant”. This means the government is responsible for determining which elements of the Australian culture are relevant and which elements of our rich and diverse culture are irrelevant.

Screen Australia’s Charter of Operations does not mention the word ‘entertainment’ once. It views films as vehicles for cultural propaganda. The government would be well advised to heed the words of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who said, “We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth”.

The brand ‘Australian Film’ is tarnished. It has earned the reputation as being non-commercial and unentertaining, and filmmaking has come to be viewed as a type of government cause, rather than the highly profitable business it can be. This makes it more difficult for all Australian filmmakers to raise independent finance, which makes filmmakers more dependent on government support. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

Filmmakers need to break away from the government system and create work that is entertainment-driven. The trouble is, independent filmmakers face an almost impossible task of competing with the government. The government has millions to spend on production and marketing so it can easily buy an audience and squeeze the independents out.

Independent filmmaking is the lifeblood of any film industry and currently Australia’s independent film sector is all but non-existent. This is a shameful blight on the government system, and a dire state of affairs for the industry as a whole.

The government simply does not need the power to pick and choose which films are produced. If any government support can be justified, tax breaks are the best form because they allow creative control to remain in the hands of filmmakers.

But the ideal scenario is where audiences pay filmmakers directly for their work, rather than paying for films via the government in the form of taxation. This way it is the people who decide which types of films are made and not the government, and we all have a few more dollars in our pockets to go to the movies.

Currently filmmakers don’t need to connect with audiences. They make most of their money from the front end—the budget, and they’re not accountable to the unwitting taxpayers who foot the bill. As a result, Australian filmmaking is running at a huge financial loss. This is unsustainable and if we allow it to continue, Australia’s share of the box office will continue to shrink.

Filmmaking is a multi-billion dollar industry that can provide jobs, growth and exports; however, much of our best filmmaking talent leaves Australia to make films overseas and like so many other Australian resources, they are sold back to us as finished products.

Australia has a large enough economy to support a commercially viable, self-sufficient film industry. It also has the talent, infrastructure, climate, geography and language that make it the ideal filmmaking nation. We’re probably the only country in the world with real competitive advantages over Hollywood.

Independent filmmakers can help to revive our industry, and rebuild it from the bottom up. But they need our help, which is why this writer is launching an entirely new non-government filmmaking initiative.

By creating a new platform, solely for independents, we hope to level the playing field so that independents can compete with the government. We aim to lure private sector investment back to the film business by showing that films really can make a profit. The key is to cut costs to the bone and allow creativity to shine, like only independent filmmaking can.

Some of the world’s most profitable films have had extremely low budgets. Films like Paranormal Activity, Clerks, and Open Water are among them. Digital technology has paved the way for micro-budget filmmaking. There’s no excuse for Australia not to have a thriving self-sufficient commercial film industry.

Films should be made by the people, for the people; and be financed by ticket-sales, not taxation. If this sounds like the type of film industry you would like to see, please join us. 

Jason Kent is an independent filmmaker who hopes to encourage other independent filmmakers to stay true to their vision and remain purely independent.

Kids and the Culture War

Cory-BernardiSenator Cory Bernardi discusses the over-regulation of child care centres:

Five years ago I gave my maiden speech in the Senate. Today, the term 'maiden speech' is politically incorrect.

During that speech I warned that Australia was being thrust into an environment where a competing agenda of 'rights' threatened the cohesiveness of our society.  I also lamented the fact that our traditional celebrations like Christmas were being subsumed by this PC rights mentality.

This week set a new standard for stupidity in this counter culture movement.

The Australian newspaper reports that new regulations to be introduced by the Federal Government will impose penalties on child care centres that require children to participate in 'religious or cultural activities, such as Christmas tree decoration or Easter egg hunts'!

According to the draft regulations, children cannot be 'required to undertake activities that are inappropriate, having regard to each family's family and cultural values'.

An Early Childhood Australia (ECA) spokesman said 'common sense' would decide if activities were culturally inappropriate.

If we were to rely on common sense as a guide then dumb regulations like this one wouldn't actually exist.

During my maiden speech I recalled that Christmas had been effectively 'banned' in my own children's child care centre. This was despite their teaching and celebration of many other cultural and religious observances.

I supported the centre's decision to teach my toddlers about the Aboriginal dreaming, Muslim Ramadan and Jewish Hanukkah – to name but a few. It would come as no surprise that I objected to the deletion of Christian traditions from the annual program.

In the realm of common sense, an area from which the PC advocates are completely removed, we should be celebrating the fact that our children are being exposed to our traditional celebrations and also to those of other cultures.

In fact all the parents I speak to, regardless of their ethnic or religious orientation, agreed that a culturally diverse pre-school education was of great value.

It seems the only people that don't think so are those actually entrusted with setting the rules under which our children should be taught.

The ECA spokesman said that 'If you have a centre with a high Muslim population, you're not going to be asking them to decorate a Christmas tree'.

The problem with this well meaning but incredibly flawed logic is that it suggests that all engagement of cultural or religious learning is some sort of propaganda exercise rather than one of extending learning and understanding.

While we can only wish that wasn't the case, the reasonableness test suggests that is the direction in which we are heading. Given that an increasing number of families need government funded child care to make ends meet, it is alarming that this is the stance that our bureaucrats are taking.

At what point will we say ‘enough is enough’ and rally against the deliberate undermining of our social and cultural institutions by the PC advocates?

If the current path is any indication, the rebellion cannot begin soon enough.

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. This article is courtesy of his personal blog which can be found at

It’s time we defended our culture and freedom

Cory-Bernardi Senator Cory Bernardi writes on the need to protect Australian culture and freedom.

France has taken the first significant step towards banning the veil of Islamic oppression – the burqa.

One French minister said the veil "amounts to being cut off from society and rejecting the very spirit of the French republic that is founded on a desire to live together.”

"At a time where our societies are becoming more global and complex, the French people are pondering the future of their nation. Our responsibility is to show vigilance and reaffirm our commonly-shared values.”

The vote in the lower house of the French Parliament was "a victory for democracy and for French values."

I couldn't agree more.

Replace the references to France in the passages above with Australia and things aren't so different.

We all need to constantly reaffirm the values that unite us rather than appease the customs that isolate some from their fellow Australians.

For too long, political correctness has allowed the power of vocal minorities to intimidate, cajole, bully or shout down any critics who dare question their 'rights'. The fact that these so called 'rights' conflict with the rights of others or the essence of our democracy is conveniently forgotten as labels of racist, bigot and intolerant are the standard ad hominem return of fire.

In today's politically correct world, such slurs have the power to wreck promising careers and stifle any rational examination of the issues that confront us. One such issue is religious extremism.

Now I admit to being a Christian – certainly a flawed and failed one - but nevertheless, I continue to strive toward a more virtuous life. I am also very tolerant of other recognised religions and have defended the rights afforded them under our Constitution in the Parliament, even when I have disagreed with the very premise of their faith.

However, when the same PC brigade that regularly insists upon the separation of church and state defends the extremism of the so-called 'religious' whose political agenda is contrary to the very foundation of our nation, then it's time to take a stand.

If you haven't already guessed, I am referring to fundamentalist Islam, whose adherents wish to impose sharia (or Islamic) law in Australia. These are the same groups that insist the full face veil is a requirement for women to live an Islamic life. To me, concealment of the face is akin to slavery as it voids the individual identity in favour of their submission to Islam and sharia.

You might also be interested to know that sharia also advocates stoning to death people who commit adultery or seek to renounce the Islamic faith. This is a system where women are considered as second class citizens and homosexuals can be hanged. To most Australians, such a culture would be considered a return to a more primitive and barbaric time. It’s as unwelcome as it is foreign.

Why then are there defenders of what I consider the most public symbol of fundamentalist Islam in Australia – the face covering veil? It beggars belief that these civil rights activists don't recognise that they are defending a political agenda that has the cessation of civil rights as its ultimate goal.

In our age of PC intolerance any criticism of such a repressive garment is met with hysterical criticism and indignant shrieks demanding individual freedoms.

Now, freedom is a serious matter and all governments strive to achieve a balance between anarchy and tyranny. However, where our freedoms are being used to undermine the very system that ensures those freedoms, we have to respond.

Appeasement, in any form, of the fundamentalist Islamic agenda will be a nail in the coffin of our fragile democracy. While this may seem an alarmist comment, the evidence of such actions in other nations is evident. In some countries (such as England), sharia law operates in parallel with western law in a number of areas. In Australia, already there are calls for sharia law to operate in regard to finance, divorce and property settlements. The Gillard Government is even considering legislative amendments to appease sharia finance advocates.

This is the first step in a process that will undermine our democratic ideals and the belief that our laws apply equally to all.

Already we have groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) holding their international congress in Sydney with their accompanying message calling for Muslims to rebel against democracy and the rule of western law. HT openly seeks the destruction of democracies and the establishment of an Islamic super-state. It also publicly supports terrorism against Israel. This group has been banned in many other nations due to their links to hate groups and terror, yet our own security service (ASIO) recommended against a similar ban in 2007.

In the United Kingdom, despite a similar recommendation from their national security agency, the Conservative Government has pledged to “ban any organisations which advocate hate or the violent overthrow of our society, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir” as part of their national security platform.  

I recognise there might not be concrete evidence that they are involved in terror or violence in Australia, but common sense says we shouldn't be indulging in hosting adherents to such extremist beliefs. What does it say about our nation when these anti-semitic extremists can gather in Australia but are banned from doing so in Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Holland, Germany and Pakistan?

Now I know we are different to the nations I just mentioned. We have different values and a different culture. However, every nation has a duty to protect and defend its own culture. Unfortunately, too many Australians appear unwilling or uninterested in doing exactly that.

The greatest threat to freedom is the tyranny of government, yet our democratic government is often the last line in defence of our freedom. When we have groups and organisations that are using our freedoms to overturn our system of government in an attempt to impose an antiquated and brutal regime, we cannot feign tolerance.

It is time we learned from the experience of the French, the Belgians, the Dutch, the Swiss and the British. We need to stop the expansion of fundamentalist Islam in Australia lest we lose the foundation, the essence, the very culture of our great nation.

Defending our culture can start with an effective ban on the burqa and groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir. In fact, our future freedom may depend on it.

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. This article is courtesy of his personal blog which can be found at

We need standards to protect our culture and our nation

Mihali Kouros Let's stand up for our culture and not be so quick to beat up on it, writes Mihali Kouros.

By now, I’m sure a lot of readers will have either read about or seen news about the Muslim extremists in Barking, Essex, protesting the return of British soldiers from Afghanistan.

I’d like to also draw your attention towards the Somalis executed for the ‘un-Islamic’ and ‘distracting’ crime of – wait for it – watching the World Cup. Apparently, it seems that watching the first World Cup to be held in a fellow African nation would have sent these Somalis into some semi-religious (but non-Islamic) fervour resulting in the recognition of Israel’s right to exist, the end of jihad and state-sponsored terrorism, and even (God forbid!) tolerance of other religions!

Now compare these with an event like the Turkish Flotilla incident, where, if the news is to be believed, the Israeli Defence Force stormed a peaceful aid flotilla trying to bring supplies to the innocent starving Palestinians in Gaza.

Another situation I thought you might be interested in was the Indian students being bashed in Melbourne (it must of course be those horrible white boys, because we all know Melbourne has no problems with ethnic gangs that could result in attacks on one minority group by another!).

Why do I bring up these examples, you ask?

Well, it all links back to how we aim – through our media reporting – to placate, in particular the Islamic, but essentially the non-Western world at the expense of our own image. It could be political correctness gone mad, or some great campaign to further multiculturalism at the expense of any kind of traditional ‘Aussie’ culture. Or it could just be that leftist media group-think that seems so fashionable these days. Whatever the reason, this national self-flagellation is a complete load of garbage.

Why should a report on an Islamic protest group, “Muslims Against the Crusades”, refer to counter-protesters who did nothing but defend the reputation and memory of soldiers who died at war as “far-Right groups”? No matter your position on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, surely you would take any frustrations out on the people who sent them off to war, rather than the soldiers themselves? Yet in the interests of ‘balance’, any Caucasian response to a minority extremist group must also be slurred as extremists (And before you get angry about my labelling of MAC as extremists, I only use the same word used by the local council leader in writing to the Home Secretary to request that MAC be banned).

When, according to a professor of political sociology in Rotterdam, “highlighting issues like freedom of speech, female equality and gay rights… serves to exclude Muslims from the… political consensus”, you have to wonder if maybe it’s time that rather than continuing this trend of placating and pacifying of the rather vocal Islamic minority, we issue an ultimatum of sorts. I don’t mean anything along the lines of “Give up your religion or f*** off!” but something more akin to the way the European immigrants of the 40’s and 50’s were treated upon arrival: Bring your culture, your traditions, your religions, and by all means bring some wicked foods along to the party, but if you think for a second that you’ll be able to live without assimilating to some extent, you might as well turn back around and head off.

For any immigrant to (or any person living in) Australia, this means a few things. It means NO support of fundamentalist religious groups. It means NO refusing to learn English. Definitely NO throwbacks to traditions which are rightly found vulgar and heinous by Australian society (this rules out any form of ritual female genital mutilation). Finally, it means supporting Australia, as a nation. Whether you agree with some government decisions or not, support of this nation should be the biggest and simplest rule to abide by.

If one day, this was to occur, maybe then we would not see our country through this fog of negativity and self-hate, but rather as the great country that it indeed is.

Mihali Kouros is a Vice President of the Adelaide University Liberal Club.

Ban the Burqa

Cory-BernardiThe ever-conservative Senator Cory Bernardi explains why he wants the burqa banned in Australia.

The burqa is no longer simply the symbol of female repression and Islamic culture, it is now emerging as the preferred disguise of bandits and n'er do wells.

In Sydney this morning a man was robbed by a burqa wearing bandit who further disguised his (or her) identity by wearing sunglasses. The bandit was described by police as being of "Middle Eastern appearance".

Well of course he was (assuming it was a he) because the only characteristics the victim could see were the burqa and the sunglasses. Now unless the sunglasses had 'made in Iran' stamped on them, it's fair to say that the 'Middle Eastern appearance' line was attributed to the head to toe veiling of the Islamic burqa.
In my mind, the burqa has no place in Australian society. I would go as far as to say it is un-Australian. To me, the burqa represents the repressive domination of men over women which has no place in our society and compromises some of the most important aspects of human communication.

It also establishes a different set of rules and societal expectations in our hitherto homogenous society.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

As an avid motorcyclist I am required to remove my helmet before entering a bank or petrol station. It's a security measure for the businesses and no reasonable person objects to this requirement. However, if I cover myself in a black cloth from head to toe, with only my eyes barely visible behind a mesh guard, I am effectively unidentifiable and can waltz into any bank unchallenged in the name of religious freedom. 

Little wonder bank bandits in the UK are now becoming burqa bandits.

The same can be said for any number of areas where photographic identification is required. How many of us would ask for the veil to be dropped so we can compare the photo with the burqa wearer's face? I suspect the fear of being called bigoted, racist, Islamaphobic or insensitive would prevent many from doing what they would not think twice about under normal circumstances.

Put simply, the burqa separates and distances the wearer from the normal interactions with broader society.

But there is a greater reason the burqa needs to be binned.

Equality of women is one of the key values in our secular society and any culture that believes only women should be covered in such a repressive manner is not consistent with the Australian culture and values.

Perhaps some of you will consider that burqa wearing should be a matter of personal choice, consistent with the freedoms our forefathers fought for. I disagree.

New arrivals to this country should not come here to recreate the living environment they have just left. They should come here for a better life based on the freedoms and values that have built our great nation.

The burqa isolates some Australians from others. Its symbolic barrier is far greater than the measure of cloth it is created from.

For safety and for society, the burqa needs to be banned in Australia.

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. This article is courtesy of his personal blog which can be found at

Charitable Conservatives Give More, Chatter Less

Ben-Peter-Terpstra Ben-Peter Terpstra writes on why conservatives tend to give more than left-of-centre liberals.

I can see why Ann Coulter detests the compassionate conservative label. Indeed, it sounds as patronising as the articulate black label because conservatism is compassionate, period. In Makers and Takers Peter Schweizer explains (page 70):

Over the past fifteen years, the General Social Survey has consistently shown that religious conservatives are 25 percentage points more likely than [left-of-centre] liberals to donate money to help the poor and are 23 points more likely to volunteer time for that cause. As Arthur Brooks points out, the annual gap in giving is large: $2,210 for religious conservatives, $642 for skinflint liberals.

Now I can think of many unfashionable reasons why conservatives (and conservative Christians in particular) tend to be more generous with their time and money but one man stands above the rest: Jesus. Indeed, we know He valued one-to-one giving as opposed to taxation because He gave us the Parable of the Good Samaritan —not the Parable of the Good Bureaucrat.

The more conservative — the more generous. Schweizer adds (page 64):

While president, Bush’s charitable giving [already higher than Clinton’s and Gore’s]…increased.  In 2005 he gave away more than 10 percent of his income. In contrast, former senator John Edwards [a leftwing Democrat], who often bemoans the “two Americas” of rich and poor, and is a wealthier man than Bush, gave less.

To be fair, though, John Edwards was very good at giving to his mistress. When he cheated on his cancer-stricken wife he was also extremely generous with his time and energy. But, like Monicagate certain facts are hidden by establishment newspapers to protect the left’s myth.

While self-praising socialists love to brag about their charitable ways, and are ritually praised as people of compassion for providing condoms to kids in faraway nations with your tax dollars, our real charity doers happen to be conservative Catholics, prudent Protestants and Orthodox Christians. To make another point about media bias, Schweizer continues:

Sen. Barack Obama, who likewise talks regularly about his concern and compassion for the less fortunate, gives far less charity than Bush. In 2005, he made 1.7 million (more than 2.5 times what President Bush made) but gave the same dollar amount as Bush. In 2006, Bush made a third less than Obama, but actually gave more to charity.

Unfortunately, compassionless journalists aren’t ready to work in the light with inconvenient facts.

Ben-Peter Terpstra is an Australian satirist and cartoon lover. His works are posted on numerous sites from American Thinker (California) to Quadrant Online (Sydney, Australia). You can find him at his blogs Pizza Trays and Beer Bottles and Quote Digger.

It’s the culture wars, stupid

John-Bowers Liberals need to take back cultural as well as political ground, writes John Bowers.

When we as Liberals look at our Party in government and in opposition, we quickly become aware that Liberals mostly don’t, or at least don’t seem to want to engage in culture wars. We see Liberal Party leaders who appear to have been generally unwilling to portray themselves as, or are uncomfortable being portrayed publicly as culture warriors.

We also see many Liberal Party members only too ready to take the advice of the media and left wing commentariat that we, as a Party, should stop fighting or stay out of the culture wars. It’s as if Liberals see or want to see the battle of political ideas as unnecessary or irrelevant, or as a difficult part of the political landscape that can somehow be turned into a kind of political de-militarised zone. Sadly, when it comes to the culture wars, too many Liberals and supporters choose to live under an armistice that is in reality an unconditional surrender.

In the culture wars, what some Liberals would prefer to see as an ideological de-militarised zone is actually the ideological high ground. And we as a Party have allowed the radical left to map it out and occupy it by default. The result is that the radical left has taken control of all our fundamental cultural institutions and radical left values define and regulate our contemporary culture.

I do not subscribe to the view of some in our Party that Liberals have lost and/or should withdraw from the culture war in Australia. But I do recognise that increasingly oppressive and destructive left values currently dominate our everyday culture and our important institutions. The evidence of the ascendancy of cultural Marxism in Australia is everywhere. To mention just one example, Australians who are now in their twenties have been made very self-conscious and constrained in what they say and to whom at university and in their workplaces. This new sensitivity is a recent development in Australia’s history. Political correctness has shaped the way the current generation of young Australians think and express themselves. For young Australians, the culture of political correctness has been used to regulate freedom of expression in an unprecedented way. For any student in any Australian university today, saying or writing the ‘wrong thing’ has consequences. A person in this situation can suddenly have serious legal problems, political problems, or face an enrolment threat. This is how left fascism rolls out. No one is confident about where the boundaries of free expression lie, so self-censorship becomes a habit and free expression becomes a casualty of the dominant left culture.

The choices are stark. Liberals either have to fight to re-take cultural ground and institutions like schools, universities and the public media that have been colonised by the left, or allow themselves to be marginalised to the point of political irrelevance. To be successful in fighting the culture wars, Liberals have to do a number of things. One fundamental requirement is that Liberals more effectively get the message across to Australians that the culture wars are about the future of our national values and our institutions. Australians have shown they care about their basic national values and institutions and we have the job of explaining how the culture wars are connected to our basic national freedoms and values. A second basic requirement facing Liberals is to understand and act on the basis that the culture wars are fundamentally about Government programs and Government spending. We need to show how under this Labor Government money is being used to advance the left agenda. For example, the ABC has long been an institutional creature of the Left and pushes the Left agenda in just about everything it does. It resists change or reform and has seen off every attempted effort in this regard in at least the last two decades. But the ABC is a publicly owned and taxpayer funded institution. It should be subject to political scrutiny and held to account by Liberals in exactly the same way as any Government department or agency.

But it is not enough in my view for Liberals to fight and win elections at the Federal and State level. If it was enough, there would be evidence after more than 11 years of a Federal Coalition Government of some change in the nature and character of our important cultural institutions and the adoption of at least some of our cultural agenda. There is no such evidence. What we as Liberals have to recognise is that we have achieved political success and cultural failure. Unless we now begin to engage in and begin to win the culture wars, our future political successes will continue to be temporary and irrelevant, overwhelmed by the dominant and pervasive Left ideology and culture that is so malignant and threatening to the basic values that we as Australians have taken for granted for so long.

John Bowers is the President of the Adelaide University Liberal Club.