Many from the ‘Left’, progressives, Cultural Marxists and activists keep trying to stymie democracy with their shrill, often illogical, Orwellian and ideological views. The following articles provide evidence.
- Trump takes on the experts to save democracy By Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian, 21 November 2018
- Assange and the rise of the Western Dissidents By Allum Bokhari, Breitbart, 19 Nov 2018
- They are out to shear away masculinity By Dimitri Gonis, The Australian, 1 November 2018
Trump takes on the experts to save democracy
Trump takes on the experts to save democracy By Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian, 21 November 2018
A US academic published a little red book this month. Yawn. It’s about Donald Trump, populism and the threat of the new authoritarianism to our liberal democratic order. Cue eye roll.
Wait a second. This American academic says Trump is not a danger to democracy. In fact, social scientist Salvatore Babones suggests the populist US president is the unlikely hero who may help mend what is wrong with modern democracy.
It gets better. Babones teaches within the arts and social sciences faculty of the University of Sydney. And his book, The New Authoritarianism — Trump, Populism and the Tyranny of Experts is just what his academic colleagues should read.
Here is an overdue and rational corrective about populism and authoritarianism that challenges the Trump hatred so common among many Sydney University academics. For them, Trump-loathing is a default setting, along with loathing former prime minister Tony Abbott, which explains their frenzied opposition to a degree funded by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.
Babones publicly questions some of the nutty objections to the Ramsay offer and is becoming quite the campus iconoclast. The author and co-author of seven books and dozens of academic articles jotted down notes for his latest book while watching Trump’s inauguration. The result is a standout from what The New Yorker calls the growing “library of anxiety” about Trumpism.
While others drew crazy comparisons between Trump’s speech and Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies, Babones heard echoes of American populism. Whereas others described Trump’s populism as toxic, Babones mulled over the reality that “most ordinary Americans fail to see any inherent evil in the idea of an American president putting America first”.
Babones debunks the growing hysteria that Trump is an authoritarian threat to democracy. Given that “authoritarian” means a system of governance that demands deference to authority, the author asks those who call Trump an authoritarian to answer a simple question: “To what authority does Donald Trump defer?” Franco’s Spain demanded obedience to church, monarchy and military. Hitler and Stalin drew authority from their totalitarian political parties. Vladimir Putin’s authority rests on Russia’s security apparatus with a nod to the Orthodox Church. “The common thread (of authoritarianism) … is that people should not think for themselves,” writes Babones.
Trump asked people to put faith in him, and him alone. He is a narcissist, to be sure. He is also a populist, says Babones, not unlike that early populist US president Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) who portrayed himself as a man of the people, attracted crowds at his inauguration that really were the largest ever recorded, rode his white horse to the White House, and made policy calls that endeared him to regular voters and enraged elites.
“Jacksonian Democracy” has become a byword for “government controlled by the people” — the same words Trump used at his inauguration.
Trump’s election hasn’t challenged the US courts, stymied congressional oversight or stopped the presses. All are still open for business. Some might say business is booming for those entrusted to check and balance presidential power.
Babones’ central thesis is that 21st century authoritarianism is not about Trump, it’s not even right-wing or nationalist or even conservative. The real threat to democracy comes from a form of liberal authoritarianism. “It is the tyranny of experts,” he writes.
His diagnosis of what ails modern US democracy is a warning shot for us. He starts with Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: government “of the people, by the people, for the people”.
Babones interprets the celebrated three-part phrase to mean that all three political traditions must be in balance, in healthy tension. “Of the people” implies a classically conservative view of the people as a single society, not a collection of individuals and special interests; “by the people” evokes the historically liberal program of extending equal rights to all; and “for the people” alludes to devising programs for the people, the core of the progressive agenda.
Babones presents a sobering account of how the liberal part of the equation has thrown democracy out of kilter. “Political liberalism,” he writes, “has evolved over nearly three centuries from a philosophy of safeguarding freedoms into a philosophy of demanding rights.” He contrasts the First Amendment in the US Constitution, which records freedom of assembly, religion, speech and the press for Americans with Article 25 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which purports to grant myriad new rights to food, clothing, housing and so on.
This evolution from reserving freedoms to creating rights happened for sound reasons, but it begs a series of pertinent questions. Who gets to create rights? For whom are they created? How are new rights to be applied and interpreted? The new liberal project draws on a growing army of unelected experts to decide these matters.
Babones says that while conservatives and progressives slug it out at elections across the Anglosphere, liberals don’t need to win elections to hold real power. Their political aims are implemented by a growing cadre of educated professionals, from academics, lawyers and judges to civil servants, social workers, doctors and lobbyists, in an expanding state with increasingly complex laws and regulations.
Drawing on experts is understandable. If you need brain surgery, you ask for brain surgeon. But politics is a unique field of human activity, says Babones. It draws on the consent from the people for its legitimacy.
Yet, from education curriculums set by bureaucrats and university policies that infringe on free speech to unlegislated climate change agreements to trade agreements drawn up behind closed doors, large swathes of public policy are influenced by unelected experts aligned with a new form of liberalism.
While others can debate whether this shift leads to good outcomes for people, Babones’s central point is harder to dispute: the transfer of power to a new and growing class of “liberal” experts entrusted to create and implement new rights is inherently undemocratic. Groomed for loyalty, this self-selecting expert class speaks with one voice. Ordinary people are discouraged from thinking for themselves.
Here, says Babones, is the new authoritarianism.
“The greatest spiritual danger facing 21st century democracy is that liberal intellectuals increasingly dismiss the moral right of less-educated people to have opinions that conflict with the consensus wisdom of the expert class,” he writes.
And populism is the last-gasp strategy to up-end this liberal authoritarianism. Populism forces lofty-minded experts to engage seriously with the mundane views of ordinary citizens. Brits caught the attention of experts with their decision to leave the EU, though the Remainers are trying desperately to quell the democratic Brexit rebellion. If the experts succeed, the new liberal authoritarianism will have rendered British democracy impotent.
Now for the truly scandalous conclusion to this little red book: Trump may be democracy’s saviour in this epic tale. His election remains the first serious challenge to a growing global consensus among “experts” on everything from immigration to trade and climate change. The least humble of politicians paid the most attention to ordinary people. And that explains election day 2016 when, as Babones writes: “(Hillary) Clinton’s basket of ‘deplorables’ looked the country’s liberals dead in the eye and said, ‘you’re fired’.”
Assange and the rise of the Western Dissidents
Assange and the rise of the Western Dissidents By Allum Bokhari, Breitbart, 19 Nov 2018
We’re used to Russian dissidents, Chinese dissidents, Iranian dissidents, and Saudi Arabian dissidents. But those who rightly believe the west is superior to authoritarian regimes must now contend with a troubling trend — the rise of the western dissident.
Chief among them is Julian Assange, who for a half-decade has been forced to live in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has claimed political asylum since 2011. Assange claimed that he would be extradited to the U.S. to face charges over his work at WikiLeaks if he left the embassy, and was routinely mocked as paranoid for doing so.
This week, we learned that Assange was right and his critics were wrong. Thanks to a clerical error by the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, reporters were able to confirm the existence of sealed criminal charges against the WikiLeaks founder.
Because the charges are sealed and the evidence is unknown, it’s impossible to say if the case has merit. But it likely relates to WikiLeaks’ release of unredacted diplomatic cables in 2011, which forced the U.S. to relocate several of its foreign sources.
Some allegations are more serious. While he was alive, neoconservative Senator John McCain maintained that leaks provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, which included the diplomatic cables, caused U.S sources to be murdered.
Those who see Assange as a villain will end the story here. What is typically left out is that WikiLeaks originally released the diplomatic cables in piecemeal form, with names redacted to prevent loss of life and minimize harm.
It was only after a Guardian journalist’s error led to the full unredacted cables leaking to third parties on the web that WikiLeaks published them as well — and not before Assange attempted to warn the office of Hillary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State.
In other words, WikiLeaks behaved precisely as any responsible publisher handling sensitive material should, redacting information that could cause harm. The redactions only stopped when they became pointless. Assange is unlikely to have won more than a dozen journalism awards if he were completely reckless in his publications.
The Pentagon later admitted under oath that they could not find any instances of individuals being killed as a result of being named in Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks, contradicting Sen. McCain’s allegations.
At worst, Assange and WikiLeaks can be accused of negligence, not deliberate recklessness, in the way it handled sensitive material. But as Breitbart Tech reporter Lucas Nolan points out, a far stronger case can be made against Hillary Clinton for the way she handled State Department emails — yet we see no criminal charges against her.
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the only reason Assange is being targeted is that he tangled with the highest levels of the western establishment. In that, he is far from alone.
In the late 2000s to early 2010s, western governments targeted all manner of individuals associated with Assange and the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, including Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, and The Guardian newspaper.
This was the early growth period of the internet, when the web had become a truly popular medium but had yet to be censored by pliant social media corporations. It was a time of profound unease at the power of the internet to undermine authority, both through the dissemination of information as in the case of WikiLeaks and Snowden, and in the new mobilization of political forces, as in the case of Occupy Wall Street and the SOPA/PIPA protests. Heavy-handed crackdowns against individuals and groups that were seen, rightly or wrongly, as symbols of the web’s early anarchic tendencies, like Kim Dotcom, Aaron Swartz, Anonymous, and LulzSec, were not uncommon.
These days, however, a new class of western dissident has emerged — the populist dissident.
Who would have thought that the highest court in Europe, home of the enlightenment, would uphold a case in which a woman was prosecuted for blasphemy against Islam?
Who would have thought that Britain, the birthplace of liberalism and the free press, would ban an independent journalist from its shores for satirizing the same religion?
Who would have thought that Germany, whose living memory of the totalitarian Stasi is just three decades old, would put its largest opposition party under surveillance?
Just a few years ago, all three would sound far-fetched. But cases like these have become common as elites in virtually every western country mount a panicked attempt to contain the rise of populism (the goal, in the words of a Google executive, is to render it a “hiccup”in history’s march towards progress).
Look at the case of Tommy Robinson, the British critic of Islam who was dragged through Britain’s courts on fuzzy contempt-of-court charges. Sentenced to an astonishing thirteen-month imprisonment, Robinson was eventually freed after a successful appeal and now awaits a final trial before Britain’s Attorney General. Shaky charges that have been successfully appealed were exploited to persecute a British citizen who was inconvenient to the establishment. And there’s still a further trial to come.
Then again, Britain is a country that routinely bans foreign politicians and media figures from the country for being too right-wing. Michael Savage, Geert Wilders, Lauren Southern, Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer all enjoy this dubious distinction. Theresa May, who was responsible for internal affairs and immigration when Spencer and Geller were banned, is now the Prime Minister.
But it’s not just Britain. Not only has Trump’s White House, supposedly an ally of populists, failed to publicly intervene on behalf of the American citizens banned from the U.K. for expressing populist viewpoints, but it hasn’t even investigated allegations that far-left Antifa activists were able to stop conservative Rebel Media personality Jack Buckbyfrom entering the country by spreading false criminal allegations.
Julian Assange, a left-libertarian may share little ideological ground with right-wing critics of Islam. But they all share at least one thing: persecution by western states coupled with anti-establishment political speech or activities. They are also targets of the security establishment — Assange because of leaks that have exposed their secrets, and the populists because they refuse to censor themselves to avoid angering Muslims. (The UK justified its attempted ban of Geert Wilders by arguing that his presence in the country could lead to “inter-faith violence.”)
We also see attacks on free speech, with governments and politicians across the west pressuring Silicon Valley to suppress its critics. An unaccountable, unelected elite can sweep away a person’s livelihood in minutes, and cut their political message off from millions of American citizens. As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, the overarching trend is the gradual destruction or delegitimization of every tool, digital or otherwise, that non-elites use to express their preferences. Does that sound like a free society, or a controlled one?
You don’t have to agree with any of the individuals or groups listed above to see that surveilling political parties, blocking journalists from entering countries, jailing critics of religion, upholding blasphemy laws and censoring the net is the behavior of authoritarian nations, not liberal democracies. Yet this is the disturbing pattern we now see in the west.
Worse, foreign authoritarian regimes now provide safe harbor for western dissidents, in the same way that the west does for foreign dissidents. Edward Snowden, accused of violating the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917 for blowing the whistle on the NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans, has for years resided safely in Russia, a country that persecutes and even kills its own journalists. Before that, he sought refuge in Hong Kong, a “Special Administrative Region” of the People’s Republic of China, an even more terrifyingly totalitarian state.
Will there now be a quid pro quo, with Russia and other authoritarian regimes protecting our dissidents while the west protects theirs? Or will western countries remain true to their liberal traditions, and stop its alarming attempts to surveil, suppress, and persecute a growing number of its own citizens? On present trends, a dark and dystopian future seems to loom on the horizon.
They are out to shear away masculinity
They are out to shear away masculinity By Dimitri Gonis, The Australian, 1 November 2018
The castrati were boys deprived of their masculinity in the name of a sublime, sonic effeminacy so that others could celebrate the higher registers of culture. Eunuchs also were castrated before they reached puberty so that they became more submissive and servile to their masters. In both cases, the mutilation of manhood drastically reduced their testosterone levels, with boys developing high-pitched voices and more effeminate characteristics.
The literal castration of boys may be a practice of bygone eras, but psycho-cultural castration is very real and happening throughout the Western world.
Today’s boys are being psychologically and culturally neutered in the early stages of their cognitive and affective development through a subliminal conditioning aimed at the gradual rejection of their masculinity to ensure their development along the lines of fluid identities.
Gone are the days of “man” and “woman”, “strong” and “weak”. Introducing our children to this fluidity is a crime against their humanity, in that it is deliberately engineering their personalities, sense of gender, even sex. A sinister agenda driven by political correctness and rabid misandry.
Throughout the Western world children are being inoculated against the inherent “toxicity” of masculinity. They are taught that it is an evil social construct, and part of a trans-historical male despotism; that it has long been the source of injustice for billions of society’s more vulnerable.
The unspoken aim of this “humanism” is to reduce masculinity to an ailment that must be cured via collective psycho-cultural emasculation. This involves nipping it in the bud before boys discover the advantages of their testosterone, and by altering their reality. This means changing the cultural grammar required to articulate their existential predicaments — thus transforming them into passive acolytes of the new, effeminised vision of humankind; a place where the primal brutishness of males has been subdued and everyone is judged on their merit, on a level playing field.
The truth is that nothing in the entire history of the world has ever been fought on a level playing field due to our inherent differences. Of course, there will always be those who are offended by such premises. Their offence, however, cannot erase the manner in which nature selects to distribute its gifts, and the fact it does so without caring about who may be offended.
What we have is a movement intent on resetting the natural laws/odds in the name of a utopian level playing field, where the unfair advantages of testosterone have been eliminated. To achieve this bizarre societal equilibrium half the players must be “castrated” so that there is no unfairness coming from those who have been endowed with much higher levels of androgen. One would never expect a rugby coach to select his players on the basis of human emotions rather than physical capacity. Yet men, today, are expected to reject their masculinity to avoid offending those who are always offended.
And since one cannot contend or reason with nature, then it must be circumvented by creating political, linguistic and psychological categories that rationalise its randomness and “unfairness” — which explain differences between male and female as misconceptions rather than a fact of nature. They claim there is no such thing as difference; each person is what he or she wants to be. For those men insulted, there is a solution — get used to it. Society must be refashioned so that it more equitably represents our modern needs and those whom toxic masculinity has marginalised and oppressed for so long.
Hence, we are all suddenly being ordered to accept that men and women are exactly the same when they are not. They are intrinsically different beings with different qualities, needs and perceptions of the world. Societies throughout history have been driven by the virility of masculinity and nurturing femininity.
Women are innately more nurturing. They are also, generally, better with children, the elderly and the infirm. Most do not aspire to become generals, CEOs or heads of state. They are also not interested in the man-hating mantra of those who have recently infected society with a venomous contempt that far exceeds the misogyny and chauvinism they have supposedly sought to combat. Yet their misandry somehow seems acceptable because of its “humanism”, which purports to dignify the vulnerable while reducing the domineering male to a state of helplessness, a pathetic groveller finally getting a taste of his own medicine.
Medicine is indeed needed for a being relegated to the margins of modern society, forced into roles that are not congruent with his essential nature. The diminution of masculinity and the skyrocketing suicide rates among men are directly related. That is not to say that men should remain on the couch and women in the kitchen. There is, however, an elephant in the room that everyone is ignoring: the blatant emasculation of 21st-century men.
Control language and you control everything. It is only a matter of time before punitive legislation — aimed at facilitating the wholesale emasculation of our societies through the mandatory application of specific vocabulary and concepts — is introduced. Our social justice warriors may be celebrating their nomenclatorial victories, but they are relinquishing more than they know. The barbarism once inflicted on the castrati and on eunuchs continues in the name of an effeminised vision of humanity. It’s no surprise that male testosterone levels are diving at an unprecedented rate — everything is against them. Most of what maleness once found expression in is slowly vanishing. The one-time hunter has lost his hunting ground, the warrior his battleground, the lover his virility, the husband his purpose.
Dimitri Gonis is a Melbourne-based writer.
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