Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Leftist elitism again
In America, there seem to be only minor grumbles about politicians who claim to represent "the little guy" flitting about in private jets and living in huge mansions etc (The Clintons, John Edwards and Al Gore spring to mind), but egalitarianism is much more deeply embedded in the Australian psyche and the story below about Australia's Federal Leftist leader will be very critically received by many Australians.
Rudd might claim that his preferential treatmment was the work of the restaurateur rather than his own doing but many Australians would have expected him to wait his turn. Conservative Prime Minister John Howard is known for lining up patiently on election day and waiting for his turn to vote.
The pic is from a Brisbane free newspaper (of June 14) called "City News" and the story appeared on p.17
In case the text is not clear, I reproduce it below:
Ruddy fish thief
DOESN'T it warm the cockles of your heart that Australia is an egalitarian nation where power and privilege won't curry you any favours? Yeah, right. Reader Josh ordered the salmon when he and his mates went for lunch at swanky Eagle St Pier eatery II Centro recently. They then noticed prime ministerial hopeful Kevin Rudd and a bunch of 'suits' arrive. Within 10 minutes they had food on their table, despite arriving after our luckless Josh, who noted our Kev had also picked the salmon. Then I was told that they'd run out of salmon and I had to choose something else. "Bloody Rudd was eating my lunch," Josh told Buzz.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Elitist Journalist disses blogs
Sometimes you read something by a member of the MSM that is just so elitist, someone whose arrogance is so amazing, that it is hard to believe it was written by a member of a democratic society.
We MSM watchdogs love to poke our fingers in the eyes of the homogeneously leftist, elitists in the media establishment assailing them for their pervasive assumptions of their own superiority. We don’t often, however, get to see them come right out and say that they truly do think they are better and smarter then the rest of us mere commoners. Usually they are sly enough not to show their arrogance so obviously, leaving it unsaid but broadly hinted at. But, once in a while their egos get the better of them and they let that upturned nose snort just enough at the rest of us to let us know where our “place” in life is.
This is one of those times. Enter the L. A. Times’ Richard Schickel to tell bloggers that they just don’t “bring anything to the party” where it concerns opinion, social criticism and reviews. Schickel is sniffing at all the uneducated, boobs who dare to imagine they have the moral right to write and publish their views on the internet for all interested parties to peruse. How DARE those lowly bloggers encroach on what Shcickel feels is the job of a cultural elite who’s right it obviously is to publish opinion and shape our culture.
In “Not everybody’s a critic”, Schickel’s impertinence about how stupid bloggers, and by extension the common American, really are reaches a height that is just short of Olbermanesque with its shrillness. After relating how the “most grating words” he’s read lately in a newspaper were those praising the plethora of bloggers who review books and post their opinions and social criticisms on the web, Schickel lays it on the line.
Let me put this bluntly, in language even a busy blogger can understand: Criticism — and its humble cousin, reviewing — is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise, ideally undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions of a book (or any other cultural object). It is work that requires disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a fairly deep sense of the author's (or filmmaker's or painter's) entire body of work, among other qualities.
Amusingly, Schickel goes on to sternly remind us that the “best criticism” is that “conveyed without a judgmental word being spoken”, amusing for the simple fact that our erstwhile critic seems to have cast that good advice to the four winds in his own criticism of the blogosphere. The phrase “physician, heal thyself” comes so immediately to mind
So, in the spirit of Schickel’s admonition not to say any “judgmental words”, I think I’ll let him do a little of it for me. The following will be a listing of some more of the “non-judgmental words” that Schickel unleashes like a shotgun blast at his hated, uneducated internet masses:
* Most reviewing, whether written for print or the blogosphere, is hack work…
* Your publisher kindly forwards the clippings, and you are appalled by the sheer uselessness of their spray-painted opinions.
* I do think, however, that a simple "love" of reading (or movie-going or whatever) is an insufficient qualification for the job.
* Inevitably, blogging was presented as an attractive alternative — it doesn't take much time, and it is a method of publicly expressing oneself (like finger-painting, I thought to myself, but never mind).
How simply nonjudgmental of you, Mr. Schickel. Bravo. Our cultural snob also decries the unseemly “democratic” nature of the internet a place where every “car parts” employee can write a review.
…a purely "democratic literary landscape" is truly a wasteland, without standards, without maps, without oases of intelligence or delight.
Gosh, we is all juss so stoopit. And now let us see what our kindly Mr. Schickel imagines might be the importance of his own handiwork:
The act of writing for print, with its implication of permanence, concentrates the mind most wonderfully. It imposes on writer and reader a sense of responsibility that mere yammering does not. It is the difference between cocktail-party chat and logically reasoned discourse that sits still on a page, inviting serious engagement.
I just love it when these people imagine only their work rises to the level of “logically reasoned discourse” and only their efforts rate “inviting serious engagement”. All I can say is that we Americans cast off the idea of the divine right of Kings and the controlling, elite classes that accompanies a Royal Court several hundred years ago. Unfortunately, there is a class of American who imagines that they sit above the floatsam and jetsam of their fellows, a class of cultural elitists who feel they have a divine right to guide the lower classes by the nose for their own good, a right born not of any royal lineage but one spawned instead from their own self-proclaimed superior intelligence.
And we nit wit bloggers should just shut up and let them tell us what to think. Not that I will be inclined to “convey” any “judgmental word” for Mr. Schickel’s beau ideal for cultural criticism. After all, it would be wonderful if I, too, could be considered a member of the superior classes.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Hungary shows just how arrogant and elitist a Leftist can get
And note that the Hungarian Leftists are SUPPORTING this spoilt child. They can see nothing wrong with her attitudes
"Panties or thong?" is not the kind of question usually fielded by government spin-doctors. But Zsuzsa Demcsak, a former underwear model and the new spokeswoman for Hungary's Socialist-led coalition government, is perhaps used to more intimate inquiries than her counterparts. She told Velvet magazine that she preferred thongs.
The internet is awash with pictures of Ms Demcsak, a striking brunette, in various stages of undress in her former incarnation. Political pundits predict that the 28-year-old mother of two, who previously worked as a television reporter, is unlikely to last long in her new position. Not because of her racy past, about which Hungarians take a relaxed view, but because of her blog. For a communications professional Ms Demcsak is surprisingly tactless about what she reveals in print.
Under the heading "My Nursery Calvary", Ms Demcsak lamented at length about trying to find a suitable nursery for her toddler son in Budapest's district XIII, whose staff, equipment and potential playmates would meet her exacting standards. "Beluka", who only had one set of clothes, did not. Nor did little "Laura", apparently regularly beaten by her parents, or "Adamka", who was taken in by his drunken mother even when he had chickenpox. The staff, she said, were "soulless".
The blog provoked national outrage. Hungary's childcare system is a wonder to behold, especially for anyone who has struggled to find a nursery in Britain. The state-subsidised nurseries and kindergartens, which cost just a few pounds a month, are run by much-loved nenis (aunties), who are devoted to their young charges. One mother replied that she was sorry she was unable to afford more clothes for her son. Magdolna Karacsonyi, a local government official, said that the nurseries were governed by strict regulations covering hygiene and food and also provided clothes.
Another blog entry recorded Ms Demcsak's delight at attending the Budapest Opera Ball, where tickets start at 183 pounds - almost a month's pay for the nursery nenis.
For the hordes of outraged readers adding their comments, the thoughts of Ms Demcsak, the daughter of a former diplomat, typify the arrogance of the new rich elite - who are often rooted in the former Communist ruling classes. Ms Demcsak's boss, Ferenc Gyurcsany, the Prime Minister, is an ex-Communist youth leader turned capitalist multimillionaire and one of the richest men in Hungary.
Ms Demcsak's defenders say she is a talented professional who is being penalised for being female, attractive and successful, and that her critics are motivated by envy and spite. Her position has been weakened by articles in the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet, alleging links between her husband, Jozsef Kiss, a businessman, and underworld gangs. She denies the claims and says she will take legal action. Government officials say the articles are part of a smear campaign and are standing by her.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
AN ELITIST SNEER AT ORDINARY AUSTRALIANS
Noted Australian playwright David Williamson recently went for a trip out of Australia aboard a cruise liner. He despised his fellow-passengers. Just one excerpt from his tirade:
"When we arrived at the huge white colossus and lined up for cabin allocation our fellow passengers gave us some misgivings. School holidays meant there were oodles of children, and the adults didn’t seem to be discussing Proust or George Eliot. But we were given a much better cabin than originally promised and all seemed set for a great holiday.
It soon became apparent, however, that all wasn’t to be plain sailing. The ship was stacked to the gunwales with John Howard’s beloved “aspirational Australians”. The dinner conversation made this plain. They aspired to all manner of things: to holidays like this, to new cars, to kitchen refits, to renovations, to private education for their children, and to practically anything made of plastic, wood or steel. The one surefire topic of conversation that connected erstwhile strangers was price comparisons.
It seems that the worst thing that can happen to an aspirational Australian is to hear that another aspirational Australian got a better price deal on their plasma TV. Value for money was the touchstone of everything, including standards of service. Any slight delay or perceived lack of utter servility by our hard-working Filipino and Indonesian cleaners or waiters was angrily pounced on and condemned. Any shore expedition that didn’t totally live up to expectations was subjected to withering criticism. Forget the fact that the rugged mountains and meandering streams of one of our ports of call were awesome; the coffee ashore was “ratshit” and the sandwiches “like cardboard”. Aspirational Australia really loves a whinge. It’s the glue of aspirational solidarity.
Not that our fellow passengers didn’t have their good points. Warmth and affection within families was genuine, and civility to other passengers was the norm. These were by and large affable people. And why wouldn’t they be? Not for them the grinding poverty of most of the world, or the devastation of tsunamis or hurricanes. The worst that seemed to have happened in most of their lives was the occasional rip-off involved in a shoddy car service.
It struck me that this cruise ship was a kind of metaphor for Australia. Cruise Ship Australia, all alone in the south seas sailing to God knows where. And in fact, like Australia, many of the passengers didn’t care where we were headed. The cruise itself was the thing. The sunbaking, the chatter, the eating, the very solid drinking, and the all-important on-board entertainment. And what entertainment: we had shuffleboard, Uno tournaments, jackpot bingo, trivia quizzes, funky jazz dance classes, quilting, scavenger hunts, and if none of these appealed you could retreat to the “legends” bar and watch replays of old rugby matches in which presumably Australia had triumphed. (They must have been old.)
At night there were island deck parties with giant conga lines shouting “Olé! Olé!” under the supervision of the lissom Shona, our activities Oberführer. There were also the nightly shows in which well-drilled Australian dancers did segments from American musicals. And if you wanted something after that, there was always a big-screen, feel-good American movie in which true love triumphed and gooiness flowed like treacle. Again, like Australia at large, no Australian song was ever played, no Australian movie ever shown, the trivia quizzes were all about American movie stars and we were offered stetsons and boot-scooting. The only thing Australian about aspirational Australia seems to be their accents.
Right-wing columnists and commentators have a habit of sneering at what they call “elites”. Elites are presumably those who are not aspirational Australians. We are urged by the columnists to accept that all wisdom resides in aspirational Australia and none in the ranks of the effete elites with their wanky interest in art, films and their bleeding-heart concern for the future of Australia and indeed the world. The pathetic “elites” should accept the ballot box wisdom of the aspirationals and stop their whining, say Paddy, Andrew, Piers and the boys. Perhaps if they spent time on a cruise ship they might start to question this belief.
When we docked at Noumeau, the one must-see item on our list was the marvellous Renzo Piano-designed Tjibaou Cultural Centre. It was offered as an alternative tour to the shopping expedition or to a day at Club Med. Not only is the building, with its soaring wood ellipses, one of the most dazzling pieces of architectural design in the world, but it was full to overflowing with the finest of Melanesian artwork. In one room alone, huge carved totems from all the Melanesian countries vied with each other, their styles wildly different and highly imaginative but stemming from obviously common cultural roots. The statement of the way art evolves and differentiates as the imagination flowers was striking.
Of the 2000 cruisers on board, barely 20 chose to see this magnificent structure and half of that number were recently settled Hong Kong Chinese. The rest were off lounging at Club Med with paper parasols in their cocktails or trying vainly to find a bargain amidst produce made in China, made overly expensive by the worst exchange rate in the South Pacific..."
Williamson then goes on to regurgitate all the usual Green/Left doom and gloom scares about the future of Australia -- showing in fact how unoriginal, ill-informed and unintellectual he is outside his own narrow world of storytelling. An excerpt:
"The problem is that the alternatives to oil just aren’t there, or even on the horizon. Wind, wave and solar energy can’t provide nearly enough, and even atomic energy can at best supply about 25% of the world’s current power needs."
That integrated technology as used in Brazil is already supplying ethanol as an alternative to gasoline at competitive prices is obviously unknown to him and I wonder from what fairy-tale he grabbed his knowledge that "atomic energy can at best supply about 25% of the world’s current power needs"?.
I could go on but what's the point? His arrogance will not be cured by facts. With my hundreds of academic journal articles in print, I think I have as good a claim as anybody to being thoroughly intellectual and I find the vast majority of my fellow Australians to be perfectly congenial people. My interests tend to be different from theirs but if that is anybody's problem I see it as mine, not theirs
A reader comments:
"One comment from the Williamson piece sums it up I think - he is disgusted that only 20 out of 2000 go to the cultural centre. He seems oblivious to the fact that the Polynesian totems he so admires were constructed for practical purposes but have now been brought to a museum to be admired -- totally decontextualising them into sterile artworks. It reflects the Left's Disney-World approach to everything. They would be happy if everyone but a few them died out and left behind their artifacts to be gathered in a giant museum for the few who remained".
Friday, September 02, 2005
THE "ART" ESTABLISMENT SPONGES OFF TAXPAYERS WHO DON'T GIVE A FIG FOR THEM
Their work isn't popular enough to earn them a living, so our artists grasp the taxpayer teat. It's not how we should be spending our money. When the Bracks [Victorian] Government spends $96,000 to paint trees blue, you see again why politicians and bureaucrats shouldn't be handing your money to artists. This is what you get when someone takes your taxes to buy art no one likes enough to buy themselves. Just ask yourself -- when you heard 40 elms at Yarra Park would be painted the colour of sad, didn't you instantly guess government money was involved? Who else would spend so much on something so unwanted?
But let's not miss the wood for the blue trees. The real worry isn't discoloured elms, but distracted artists -- artists who are paid by governments to ignore their true audience, the public. It's bizarre. In fact, our biggest arts grants are now going to middle-aged or elderly artists who -- even after decades of "success" -- still seem not to have found an audience big enough to pay them a living.
This month the arts and craft board of the Australia Council announced another round of grants worth more than $2 million. The biggest handouts were four fellowships each worth $80,000, given to arty-crafty people of "outstanding achievement . . . to create new work and further develop their practice". The winners all had decades of work behind them -- Klaus Moje (born in 1936), Jenny Watson (1951), Fiona Hall (1953) and Joyce Hinterding (1958). All had also had huge success, or as huge as it gets in art-crafts. Between them, they'd won countless awards, folders of fawning reviews and earlier grants and fellowships. The arts establishment had also variously given them jobs as lecturers, stints as artists-in-residence and hanging space in scores of public galleries, here and overseas.
Yet despite all that, they still need our money -- not freely given, but extracted through taxation -- to keep making what they make. Given that Moje, a glass-worker, is now 69, can we ever expect an artist to stand on his own two feet -- or try another line of work? As I said, these are artists much praised, but when you look at what they do, you might understand why they still need a grant. The Australia Council says Hinterding, for instance, will use her $80,000 to "create, exhibit and perform with a series of printed graphic antennae". The advertising for her works describes them best: "(They are) based on celestial site recordings of magnetic fields and weather satellites made with custom-built antennae . . . The result is a complex universe of mysterious interference, ghostly transmissions from unfathomable places, disembodied static, and failed communication."
It sounds kind of interesting for 30 seconds, but must taxpayers be forced to give Hinterding $80,000 to keep producing examples of this failed communication Would they even care if her antennae never again tuned in to mysterious interference? Perhaps not, because if they did, they'd support Hinterding in sales, not grants.
I should add that I don't dislike her art, or that of the others. I even like the way Fiona Hall carves flowers from sardine tins, knits baby clothes from Coca-Cola cans and builds bird nests out of shredded US dollar bills. I just doubt many people would buy it, which may be why she applied for this fellowship. But why must we be forced to pay for art that we do not choose to buy? Why must we pay all the other art and crafts people who got smaller grants to create "a new body of work in transparent rubber", or "photomedia works based on Prato in Tuscany" (Tuscany again!) or "a series of lighting pieces conceptually based on characteristics of a dysfunctional family"? Why pay for all this?
Writer Rodney Hall, former head of the Australia Council, tried to justify it in a paper written last month for the federal Labor Party. "The arts make us feel better," he declared. Like aspirin, I guess. Or beer. If that's so, I'm surprised so few artists seem all that happy. In fact, Hall seems especially unhappy, especially when contemplating the arts that are meant to make him "feel better". In his paper, he groans that our books have got worse, and so have our films. Indeed: "It is glaringly obvious that international distributors are not at all interested in Australia (sic) products because they are Australian." And at a recent Opera Australia performance he was horrified to find singers could "not even sing the notes".
All this has happened as our governments spend more than ever on artists. Yet Rodney Hall, and our politicians, just don't see the link -- that as the state spends more, our arts tend to get worse (or so Mr Hall says). Hall instead clings to the conceit that popular art is trash art -- the poisonous conceit that explains why we keep funding the unpopular stuff instead. "Especially if it has power and lasting value, it is seldom immediately assimilable and therefore seldom immediately popular," he claims. Well, you might want to believe this too, if you wrote books as ignored as the grant-fed Hall's.
The truth is, of course, great artists must rarely wait to become popular. Beethoven, Dickens, Hemingway, Picasso, T.S. Eliot, Walt Whitman, Verdi -- all were celebrities in their day, and didn't need the state's help to create. It's state money, direct to artists, that corrupts them, in part by helping them to forget it takes two for art to succeed -- someone to create and someone to enjoy. Take the audience out of that marriage, and art withers, flowers fade and -- heavens! -- even the very trees turn blue
From Andrew Bolt
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
LIKE ORWELL'S PIGS, THE BRITISH LEFTIST ELITE THINK THEY ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
Members of Britain’s elite have been selected as priority cases to receive scarce pills and vaccinations at the taxpayers’ expense if the country is hit by a deadly bird flu outbreak. Workers at the BBC and prominent politicians — such as cabinet ministers — would be offered protection from the virus. Ken Livingstone, the London mayor, has already spent £1m to make sure his personal office and employees have their own emergency supplies of 100,000 antiviral tablets.
If there is an avian flu pandemic in the coming months there would be enough drugs to protect less than 2% of the British population for a week. The Department of Health has drawn up a priority list of those who would be first to receive lifesaving drugs. Top of the list are health workers followed by those in key public sector jobs. Although senior government ministers would be among the high-priority cases, the department said this weekend that it had not decided whether to include opposition politicians. BBC employees would be protected because the corporation is required to broadcast vital information during a national disaster.
Politicians and the media have been placed before sick patients, heavily pregnant women and elderly people by government planners. .....
Fears that a “doomsday” virus may sweep the world have been heightened by the recent spread of the lethal strain of avian flu, H5N1. The death toll, estimated at 120, has been of people whose work brought them into close contact with infected birds. Scientists have warned that millions could die if H5N1 mutates. The Department of Health would not currently be able to cope with such an onslaught. Although it has ordered 14.6m doses of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug thought to be effective against the H5N1 strain, only 900,000 doses are in stock so far. The full supply will not be delivered until March 2007, at a total cost of about £100m.
Besides the NHS and BBC, firemen, police and the armed forces are among those listed in the two top-priority groups to receive the vaccine
Monday, August 29, 2005
AN ELITE LEFTIST INTELLECTUAL AT WORK:
With a typical disregard for facts and accuracy
No reputation in intellectual Australia stands higher at the moment than Robert Manne's. This year he was voted the country's leading intellectual (in a survey of 100 people by The Sydney Morning Herald); he has just published a mammoth collection of essays, Left Right Left; and for 20 years he seems never to have lost an argument in which he has participated.
Yet, as with so many of our celebrity intellectuals, to my (admittedly) jaundiced eyes, he doesn't measure up to his reputation.
For one thing, he handles facts and sources very loosely for a professor. In Left Right Left, he gets people's names wrong more than once, referring to "the Michael 'Greed is Good' Milliken Institute", for instance, when he means the Milken Institute, and to "Jerry Fleischmann" when he means Jeffrey Fleishman. When he says that Bill Clinton was impeached "over the relatively trivial question of [his] Monica Lewinsky lies" (Clinton was impeached on charges of having perjured himself in testimony to a grand jury and obstruction of justice), he again displays an unsettling lack of precision.
It would be easier to ignore his minor errors if Manne wasn't himself so quarrelsome on points of fact and didn't make so many mistakes of fact and method even in his I'm-right-and-you're-wrong corrections of others. In a letter he wrote to The Age in September 2003, for instance, he cited Alison Broinowski's popular book Howard's War - a secondary source at best - in triumphant demolition of a column by Gerard Henderson that had relied on Hansard.
In The Culture of Forgetting, he faulted Helen Demidenko/Darville for describing Lazar Kaganovich (a member of Stalin's inner circle) as having been shorter than Stalin, remarking that "Kaganovich was, according to the only biography in English of him, considerably taller than Stalin". Manne didn't even include this unnamed biography by an unnamed author in his list of sources and it turns out to be The Wolf of the Kremlin by Stuart Kahan, a dubious-looking book that reads like a novel, in which its American author recounts the life of his "uncle" Lazar Kaganovich, basing this account for the most part (it seems) on a 10-hour, untaped conversation he claims to have held with him, from which nothing is quoted directly. It's a book that the experts in its field dismiss entirely. Manne relies on this book as naively as a first-year undergraduate.
The most striking thing about Manne, though, is the ease with which he assumes us to be in agreement with him and his world-view generally. He writes of "the independence of the ABC", for example, as though referring to an objective fact.
Arguing that the notion of political correctness is itself devoid of content, he wrote: "If we believe the campaign against, say, Helen Garner [author of The First Stone, about a University of Melbourne sexual harassment case] to have been vicious or unbalanced or unjust, to have been driven by the force of 'political correctness' as some have said, we think these things only because we value her voice, or at least think of it as part of civilised conversation."
I don't value Garner's voice or consider it part of civilisation, and I don't believe there to have been any campaign against her, either. Manne takes it for granted that we all agree with him on such things.
Although no Pauline Hanson [an affirmative action critic] supporter myself, I can remember being astonished by the ease with which, speaking to Robert Dessaix on Radio National, Manne could claim sympathy for Hanson supporters as ordinary people who felt shut out of public debate and then shut them out of debate himself. Sympathy with Hanson supporters wasn't as important as being right on the issues, he concluded, taking it for granted that there was a right attitude to questions such as reconciliation and Asian immigration, and thereby failing to acknowledge their political character.
In the same broadcast Manne endorsed the Marxist theory that says political views follow self-interest by way of rationalisation, but he appears to think it couldn't possibly apply to him. He seems to see himself as being outside politics - he described his own book Whitewash as "non-polemical" - which for a professor of politics (of all people) is surely a remarkable position to claim for oneself.
Manne has an apparent reluctance to see any of his opinions as being a debatable point. He even took Steven Spielberg to task for having a view of the Holocaust different from his own. Having expressed a point of view different from Manne's, Spielberg didn't understand the Holocaust at all, it turns out, and that is why Schindler's List is a bad film. So much for Spielberg.
In addition to their dogmatism, there is frequently an element of sleight-of-hand to Manne's arguments as well: important points get dealt with quickly or shallowly to justify attacks that, in the end, don't seem justified after all.
The clearest examples of this occur in The Culture of Forgetting. Manne's main argument here is, essentially: first, Darville's The Hand That Signed The Paper [a book that won Australia's top literary award] revives the claim that Bolshevism was a Jewish conspiracy; second, this thesis is historically untrue; and third, it's a falsehood that the Nazis promoted vociferously. Propositions two and three are not in dispute by anybody; the key element in Manne's argument is the first one. It's this point, though, that he gives the least attention. He justifies points two and three by an eight-page discussion full of facts and figures, dazzling the reader with his historical expertise, having crammed the case against Darville's novel into less than two pages.
And when one checks the exhibits that Manne presents in these two pages against the novel itself, one finds that he has often misrepresented them. He writes, for instance, that in the novel "the father is arrested and killed by 'Jewish Bolsheviks"'. In the novel, the father is arrested by "SMERSH men and women". Nothing is said about their being Jewish or even Bolshevik (except much later in the novel by a character who wasn't in a position to know). It is true that as the father is dragged off, he shouts (among other things) "Fight Marx and the f---ing Jewish Bolsheviks!", but that only makes it as true to say that he is arrested and killed in the novel by "Jewish Bolsheviks" as it would be to say he is arrested and killed there by Karl Marx.
In addition to fudging evidence, Manne also leaves things out. In discussing the book's identification of Judaism and Bolshevism, for instance, he fails to mention this passage: "He [Evheny] noticed that the town's synagogue had been converted into a revolutionary museum, and that NKVD troops stood guard to keep the Orthodox Jews away from what had once been their place of worship. A red and black banner obscured the Star of David on the roof. 'Celebrate what Communism does to free the Jews!' it read."
Manne cites the actual, historical persecution of Jews by the Bolsheviks to show the absurdity of identifying Bolshevism and Judaism, failing to note that Darville, aware of this persecution herself, included it in the novel, a point that refutes the central thesis of his attack on her.
He leaves a great many things out of his arguments. In an attack on Keith Windschuttle, he made much of the fact Windschuttle had been awarded a Centenary Medal; this was evidence, apparently, of the Prime Minister's personal enthusiasm for Windschuttle's The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. What Manne failed to mention here was that he was awarded one of those medals himself, which detracts from his argument somewhat.
Another omission occurs when Manne claims that not only was he never a member of the New Right, he was among its earliest opponents. In his prize-winning Deakin Lecture, he said: "I was opposed to the New Right when it emerged throughout the English-speaking world in the 1980s."
More recently he wrote: "Even though I watched with fascination as the Hayekian idea took hold in Australia - through the combined work of journalists, academics, politicians, businessmen and private enterprise think tanks - I was never a supporter of what I must admit I spoke of as the New Right."
What he never adds is that when the New Right emerged in Australia in 1982, it was with The New Conservatism in Australia, a book edited by a thirty-something academic named Robert Manne.
Manne seems to me not so much a political commentator as a political activist, and a doctrinaire one at that. His farewell to Quadrant I find a wearisome expression of this side of Manne. He had wanted to move the magazine away from "the old polemical temptation", he said on resigning as its editor; he had wanted it "to shrug off its embattled mood". He had wanted an end to argument and contrary opinion, that was all, and when the contrarians objected, then that (of course) made them the baddies. It's the Bob Hawke "consensus" approach: let's all hold hands and be friends - on my terms. One can respect an avowed opponent, a "good hater", but it is hard to respect someone who cries foul simply for being disagreed with. It is this trait, finally, that makes Manne someone I have found it hard to admire even as a newspaper columnist.