It’s been an interesting week on Catallaxy files, a site where I spend too much of my time but where I get inspiration for many of my posts, this one being no exception. The Cat, as it is affectionately known to those who grace its pages, is Australia’s leading libertarian and centre-right blog which is run by RMIT economics lecturer, professor Sinclair Davidson.
The Cat is one of the very few Australian sites run by someone as prominent as Davidson that encourages robust discussion and forthright views on just about any topic. If your ideas or opinions are weak then they will be ruthlessly exposed by the many educated, experienced, and informed regulars. Which is what makes the place so invaluable. Shrinking violets do not stand the heat for very long.
And my word there has been a lot of heat over the last few days.
It began early last week when Quadrant online editor Roger Franklin published a polemic that took the ABC to task for its fatuous dismissal of Islamic terrorism on the Q&A program. Unfortunately for the ABC, a few hours after the program aired concert goers in Manchester were exposed to a terrorist attack that killed 22 innocent adults and children. In his article, Franklin posited a hypothetical rendering of the situation:
“Life isn’t fair and death less so. What if that blast had detonated in an Ultimo TV studio? Unlike those young girls in Manchester, their lives snuffed out before they could begin, none of the panel’s likely casualties would have represented the slightest reduction in humanity’s intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty.”
ABC director Michele Guthrie faced an immediate crisis, and she responded in the time honored tradition of going on the attack in order to deflect attention away from the Q&A debacle. The subject of her attack was Quadrant.
Quadrant is one of the very few remaining truly conservative opinion pieces in Australia. Over the last few years it has seen what little remains of its Federal arts funding steadily decrease to a trivial amount. It thus almost entirely relies on sales and subscriptions for its survival, which means it is uniquely placed to stand up to the progressive cultural onslaught.
The Australian ran Guthrie’s demand for an apology prominently on its online edition and by all accounts Quadrant’s website was getting smashed by the amount of attention it was receiving. It was a unique opportunity to stand up to the Left and many of us had high hopes that Quadrant would tell the ABC to go and take a running jump.
A few hours later those hopes were dashed. Quadrant editor Keith Windshuttle wrote a letter of apology to Michele Guthrie and agreed to her demands to remove the offending article. Even worse, Quadrant board member Nick Cater appeared that afternoon on ABC’s The Drum where he declared that the Quadrant article was ‘despicable’. The video is at the link at the time of writing.
Cater is a respected journalist and fighter on the conservative side, having published The Lucky Culture to great conservative acclaim. But perhaps book sales are not what they once were and Cater needs his regular appearances on the ABC to keep the wolves from the door. In short, he obsequiously betrayed his few remaining principles in order to guarantee a continued income stream from the enemy.
Over at The Cat, Sinclair Davidson expressed amazement that any of us would get angry in a piece titled, Get angry? Why? Angry at whom?
“What is the point of being angry when that anger has no outlet or positive consequence? Even Paul Murray is calling for Roger to be sacked. Nick Cater appeared on The Drum to offer a grovelling apology to the ABC. The cause of civilisation and freedom doesn’t need martyrs it needs patriots. It certainly doesn’t need quislings. Yet the best advice I can give is for good men and women to bite their tongues and to carry on.”
The reaction from the regulars was not pretty.
Steve Kates then published a piece quoting John Stuart Mill and his wise words that ‘Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.’ Once again the commentary was vigorous.
But it was the post from regular Helen and her letter to Keith Windshuttle that really got things going. The number of ‘concerned commenters’ who blew in and attempted to wave away Quadrant’s actions as being entirely defensible was eye opening. This from Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Studies, Greg Lindsay was most illustrative:
“You are all getting carried away on this. Important issues and not to be treated lightly of course, but just cool down. As to Nick’s ‘apology’, he’s a member of a board of an organisation and as such has to think of that first, otherwise being a board member means nothing. The Quadrant board’s judgment may be right or wrong, but I suspect they have a lot to think about right now. It will settle down, but give them all a bit of time. They need your support.”
I did not hold back with my response:
“The ABC got carried away on this, not us. Quadrant should have told them to go cool down. Well, they didn’t and now they have a shit-storm from their readership.
“So don’t tell us to cool down. We were all watching as it happened. We were commenting right here and every one of us, (with the usual moronic exceptions), were 100% behind Quadrant as long as they held firm.
“They barely lasted a few hours before Nick was prostrating himself on The Drum and the apology was in. Now they’re living with the consequences of their actions and they don’t like it. Well, don’t dump shit on us just because they fucked up. We’re not holding back anymore. We’ve had enough. That’s the message and we want it loud and clear.
“Because the way we’re seeing it, we don’t count. The ABC counts, their frenzied audience counts, stupid fucking Liberal politicians who should know better count, but apparently we don’t. We get the message, so don’t complain when we send the message right back in their faces.
“They need our support? Bullshit. We needed their support. We were counting on them and they dropped the fucking ball.”
We often hear of the long march through Western institutions as being described as ‘the culture wars’, a war which the right has been steadily losing for over fifty years. But after some contemplation I have to now disagree with this description. Because a war implies that there are two sides showing up for battle, whereas in effect the right has done nothing but continually cede ground to the enemy.
A more apt description would be ‘the cultural annihilation’ or even ‘the cultural genocide’. Nazi Germany didn’t fight the Jews, they simply exterminated them. Not only that but many Jews participated in the rounding up in order to save their own skin. Conservatives are completely deluded if they think that they have been fighting a culture war. They haven’t been fighting anything at all. They have been actively involved in ceding ground to the enemy while simultaneously throwing under a bus the few conservatives willing to put up a fight. How else to describe Nick Cater’s performance on The Drum and the effect it will have on Roger Franklin?
The great excuse that conservatives have continually used to justify their abject cowardice is that if they did actually fight then we would have an actual war on our hands. This is best summed up by another comment on the same thread which was, you guessed it, addressed to me:
“When the Right finally does abandon “good manners” and “polite society” (is that what you imagine rational, objective thinking is about?) then all that is left is civil war. Violence, civil disorder and collapse of our society has always been a necessary prerequisite for Marxists in pursuit of their revolution in order to establish a dictatorship of the proletariate.
“You are saying that we should fight on the field that the Left choses. Such adolescent enthusiasm for the good battle! Perhaps we could become Weimar Germany and have running mob battles in the streets. The left would glory in that! Take a cold shower, son.
“So who is the real cuckservative?
“I am not here to pillory Roger Franklin. He made a mistake. Big f_cking deal. It’s the internet. He push the post button and it was published. Admit it as such and move along.”
This is why I wrote the post titled No alt-right for old men because all they know how to do is to lose. Trump might have described the terrorists as losers but conservatives are losers too. They lose with dignity, they lose with grace, they lose with good manners, they lose well in polite society, but they are at the end of the day a bunch of fucking losers.
Nothing epitomizes this more than the events surrounding Quadrant over the last few days. We should let Quadrant die. Let it burn. Is it a coincidence that Quadrant has been around for over fifty years, the same amount of time that conservatives have been losing to the progressive left? Let the board sack Franklin; he’ll be better off without them. Because even if he does survive, if it’s not now, it’s only a matter of time until when. Take the medicine now and get it over with.
Quadrant doesn’t deserve Franklin and it doesn’t deserve its readership either. More to the point, its readership doesn’t deserve Quadrant. The good work that the publication has done in the past has been entirely undone in the last week. It is a symptom of the old guard, the old guard of cringing losers.
Let something new rise from its ashes. Something that at least is prepared to fight.
Photo by quinn.anya