Overcoming Mindless Leftist Conformity of Thought By Brian Simpson
There has been considerable interest among conservatives following the inaugural meeting in London of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship. The aim of this organisation is to counter the globalism of the World Economic Forum, through a network that will defend nationalism and traditional institutions such as the family. They are definitely opposed to bans on fossil fuels and the dictates of the elites that we eat bugs, and that is a great thing in itself! And one spin-off from the ARC meeting is the question of how to preserve, or indeed, create intellectual diversity of thought in organisations such as the ABC, and especially the universities.
This is a topic which we have been discussing here for years. The answer is, as I see it, that it is at present hopeless and a waste of time to try to reform these organisations. Instead, as US conservative intellectual Dr Steve Turley argues in his YouTube programs, we need to build parallel organisations to slowly replace the decaying woke conventional entities. This is exactly what the purpose of ARC is, and a point missed by the commentary (below) from The Australian.
“In the past few days much has been written about the inaugural meeting in London of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship. The meeting offers hope for people fed up with the trajectory of so-called progressive politics.
The emergence of this new group couldn’t come soon enough. The challenge for people on what one might call the centre-right has always been how to stop the march of leftist politics through our educational institutions, how to drain the monocultural swamp at the ABC and in government bureaucracies. Now there is a new challenge: how to tackle the arrogant political swagger within myriad other organisations that, like a form of rot, undermines the foundations of these groups.
If it were simply an irritatingly shallow form of virtue signalling, we might ignore it. But the trend highlights deeper problems in the West. While CEOs and executives worry in tight unison about pronouns and gender policies, the purpose of these bodies is being sidelined. For all their bellyaching about diversity, groups are becoming remarkably homogenous in their thought. And this sort of conformity is nothing to celebrate.
The upshot is that those with a healthy appetite for a diversity of views have fewer places to turn to hear different voices. I have given up on the public broadcaster. Its coverage of the most serious issues facing the country and the world has become superficial and juvenile. I turn to the BBC for coverage of the Gaza war, for example, where its journalists make a serious attempt to cover the complexities of war. Not perfect. But a zillion times better than the ABC, where there are so few journalistic adults.
Two exceptions, professionals John Lyons and Sabra Lane, stand out among a pack of overpaid journalists who sound for all the world like low-grade university activists.
Taking another swipe at his former employer recently, Stan Grant said there were people on shows such as Q&A “that I don’t need to hear from and what is their expertise?” The same could be said of many other shows and ABC journalists. One needs to look back to the early to mid-1990s, when Lateline, for example, produced outstanding journalism. Back then seriously smart journalists hosted debates between seriously smart people on the big issues of the day.
In the early ’90s Kerry O’Brien moderated a debate between Christopher Hitchens, then a writer for left-wing publication, The Nation, and free-market economist Richard Rahn from the Cato Institute about Reaganomics’ legacy. The clash of ideas was riveting. In the mid-90s Maxine McKew interviewed Henry Kissinger and Malcolm Fraser on how Australia should tackle any future US-China rivalry. Here again were serious public figures disagreeing intelligently with each other on an issue of profound importance.
There is no equivalent of Lateline in its heyday at the ABC today, no first-rate intelligent and challenging journalism where viewers come away entertained, challenged and better informed. Instead, programs such as The Drum offer a glib line-up of nothingness.
The pursuit of mind-numbing identity politics has turned Aunty into a taxpayer-funded Mickey Mouse media outfit. They may have been white men but the likes of Mark Colvin, Andrew Olle and Tony Eastley sure knew their craft. Would 23-year-old versions of these men get a gig at the ABC today? One of them might sneak in if they were gay or ticked some other diversity box.
The recent voice referendum highlighted the decline of the ABC from a serious broadcaster to a kindergarten. The billion-dollar-plus organisation is a case study in how intellectual conformity wrecks an institution. The same stifling conformity elsewhere in the country was exposed by companies and directors who sang from the same song sheet during the referendum. And it isn’t just corporate Australia that needs to learn lessons about the extent of their surrender to groupthink and the mindless submission to the inner-city zeitgeist.
Having conquered the boardrooms of corporate Australia, many of the self-aggrandising masters of the universe now spend their time on the boards of other bodies trying to enforce the same deadening intellectual conformity. Increasingly the infestation of not-for-profit organisations by the corporate elite has meant, as in corporate Australia, every kind of diversity known to man is worshipped except the one that really counts – diversity of thought.
Based on the maxim that where there is rot, it needs to be treated, there needs to be a refresh of boards in this country. Whether betrayal of an entity’s real purpose was caused by directorial arrogance or because directors have allowed overbearing executives to run riot, directors are ultimately responsible if an entity forgets its raison d’etre. They need only tune into the ABC to understand that an organisation that succumbs to stifling orthodoxy and loses sight of its purpose will lose relevance.
This desperate need for diversity of thought applies as much to sporting codes and arts organisations as it does to companies such as Rio Tinto or Wesfarmers or the banks. It applies to a think tank such as the Centre for Independent Studies, too.
The CIS is, and has long been, one of the most influential sources of policy analysis and reform from a centre-right perspective in Australia. Founded by the inimitable Greg Lindsay, its purpose is a firm belief in free markets and free peoples, individual rights and freedoms, and a rejection of collectivist and identity politics, not as a matter of political allegiance or blind ideology but by testing each idea against available evidence.
Its robust and thoughtful policy development in Indigenous policy once attracted people such as Noel Pearson. More recently the CIS helped Jacinta Nampijinpa Price come to prominence; her messages of individual rights and responsibilities, and rejection of separatism and group rights is vintage CIS. Price’s advocacy is a continuation of the pioneering work done by distinguished economist and all-round CIS legend Helen Hughes. What could be a more powerful testimony to the continuing intellectual rigour and consistency of the CIS than the work of Price, and her colleague Nyunggai Warren Mundine, another prominent CIS contributor.
However, proving that even the CIS was not immune from the long march of the left through our institutions, the think tank faced considerable pressure during the voice debate to fall into line with other organisations. Despite dummy spits from Michael Chaney and others, the CIS did not buckle to demands to jump on the Yes bandwagon. For centre-right think tanks to remain dynamic contributors, they must be able to resist capture by the soft left. After all, a think tank that seeks to please everyone will please no one.”
Pearson became obsessed with the influence of the CIS for good reason. It represents one of the few platforms in this country to push back against illiberal orthodoxy, one that has remained true to its purpose: testing ideas, providing a platform for debate and championing liberal ideas and values that are proven paths to progress.
What marks out the CIS as different, and refreshing, from the corporate world inhabited by some of its directors is that its values are mainstream. Those directors uncomfortable with this are better off leaving than trying to turn the place into a boring replica of woke corporate politics. It’s one thing for a company, sporting code, charity or think tank to commit itself to, say, providing a civil workplace. That kind of workplace conformity sits perfectly well alongside its proper purpose. But the sooner those in charge of these groups realise intellectual conformity is fundamentally rotten, that it halts progress, the better they – and the society they serve – will be.”