The left, with its crazy and polarizing ideas, has sunk the West into a malaise

The left, with its crazy and polarizing ideas, has sunk the West into a malaise. By Greg Sheridan.

The US, Britain, Australia – the three amigos of AUKUS – … should be the pinnacle of Western resolve, the sharp end of allied purpose. In truth, each nation is moving to the left culturally, and therefore over the long term they are moving left politically as well, notwithstanding short-term electoral wins for conservatives. Each also is displaying spasmodic but disturbing signs of a lack of seriousness in national security.

And each society, but especially the US, is internally polarised. …


It was briefed out that this was the most important security development for Australia since ANZUS. Yet, weirdly, since it was inaugurated, US President Joe Biden hasn’t said a word that’s positive about it or about Australia. Though doubtless briefed up to the last minute, he couldn’t remember Scott Morrison’s name at the virtual joint appearance of the three leaders announcing AUKUS. His only comments on AUKUS have been relentless apologies to France, which also received the diplomatic gesture of a visit by Vice-President Kamala Harris. …

Second, the Morrison government keeps telling us the subs will be built in Adelaide and the very earliest we might get the first is 20 years from now. That’s wildly optimistic timing, by the way. Never fear, the government says, our six aged Collins-class boats will still be “regionally superior” into the 2040s. Yet the same government also told us the French Attack-class subs would be “obsolete” on the first day they came into service in the early 2030s. Those two statements cannot both be true.

The only conclusion is that this is mostly about symbolism and electoral politics.

Western malaise, like 1930s France, is due to the left’s excessive virtue signaling, which has caused the left to go bonkers:

And here is one of the clues to the malaise across the West, particularly the three great Anglosphere democracies.

The politics of all three countries has become dysfunctional, inefficient, often incapable of dealing with real-world problems, and therefore, on both left and right, increasingly preoccupied with fantasy symbols, with long-distant future aspirations and with contested cultural iconography.

And in these areas, though the conservatives will have their occasional victories, and these will be significant, the left overall is prevailing. This ultimately will be as confounding for the left as it is for the right, for the more the left wins in the cultural field, the more confused, extreme and unreasonable its demands become. The result is a very fractured and incoherent society.

Let’s go back to the Virginia governor’s race. Republican Glenn Youngkin won in a state where a Republican hasn’t won a statewide vote since 2008. Youngkin ran one practical economic policy — cutting taxes. And he ran one culture wars policy that was also very practical — giving parents a fair say over what is taught to their kids and keeping radical ideology, in particular the madness of critical race theory, out of classrooms.

That’s the kind of culture wars victory conservatives are most likely to win, when the stuff the left is proposing is wildly over the top. No one doubts there is racism in the US and that racism is evil. No one doubts that there has been severe racism in US history.

But CRT in the US holds that the entire purpose of the American nation was to embody racism, and that racism is central to every aspect of American life and history, and that a white person can truly be non-racist only when they are actively performing anti-racist ritual. This is rightly seen as a kind of quasi-witchcraft, pseudo-religious cult. It’s completely bonkers. No normal person could fall for it. .

And CRT has its obnoxious place in Australia. … It’s the sort of issue that could help the federal government a lot if handled well. So far it hasn’t registered much in the national consciousness.

Why oh why did we let the left run the school system?

But in the US, Britain and Australia the pedagogic left has been in complete control of the curriculum for decades. It has long taught that our societies are essentially evil, based essentially on evil constructs — racism, sexism, heteronormativity, militarism, colonial­ism, capitalism and all the rest.

This of course is an inversion of moral reality. There are plenty of things wrong with the US, Britain and Australia, and plenty of bad things happened in their history. But human beings are fallen creatures. All three societies, working with imperfect human beings, are among the most just, least racist and most democratic societies humanity has ever created under any circumstances.

[Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge] was right to make the obvious link to national security. If you learn at school and university to hate the basis of your society while acquiring almost no knowledge of its history, why would you be inclined to defend it with your life or even with your taxes? …

How the conservatives win currently:

The first is by essentially surrendering to the left on the big ideas but for the centre-right party to promise to implement them in a much more sober, cautious, incremental and balanced way than the centre-left itself would.

In a sense this is what has happened with budgetary response to Covid-19. Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has taken tax, and the size of government, higher than it has been for nearly 70 years. Government expanded massively during World War II in Britain and then again after the war with the introduction of the welfare state. …

The second way conservatives win is to mobilise the common sense of the average citizen against the elites. These victories are often exhilarating, but virtually without exception conservatives in politics are not clever enough to turn such victories into long-term institutional change.

The left is inherently concerned with ideas — many of which are crazy, but they are still ideas — and lives and breathes institutional politics and government process. The conservative parties are complete amateurs on this. John Howard tried to reform the way history was taught in Australia and failed. All the conservative governments have tried to reform the ABC and failed. There is a squad of left-wing think tanks associated with Australian universities. They are not balanced by conservative think tanks.

The one or two conservative think tanks that do exist – the Institute of Public Affairs and the Centre for Independent Studies – rightly pride themselves on their complete independence of government.

But in sheer size and funding they are no match for the limitless rivers of gold that pour forth from ideologically committed state-funded institutions.

That’s because the main left party and the deep state — the administrative state and its bureaucracy — are almost synonymous today.

The French were an easy pushover for a vigorous leftist Germany in 1940:

John F. Kennedy as president spoke magnificently of America’s commitment to allies and to freedom — we will bear any burden, oppose any foe, support any friend, to ensure the survival of liberty.

That kind of rhetoric, that kind of sentiment, is now completely missing from American presidential politics on either side.


So, what is the single most important explanation of this?

Karl Schmude, the founder of Campion College, offers the answer in the November issue of Quadrant: “Politics is downstream of culture. And culture is downstream of faith.”

It’s very unclear that Western nations without transcendent belief can prevail in the long run.

The foremost target of the radical left has always been Christianity.

hat-tip Stephen Neil