Australia’s traitors: Champions of neo-fedualism

How analysts, commentators, and politicians are distorting Australia’s political landscape. A personal assessment of the battle for Australia as an independent nation rather than as a minor feudal colony of imperial powers.

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Hayek, champion of Western liberalism

Commentary on the
Cambridge Companion to Hayek

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This most useful primer features three essays in particular that provided good reason to reflect again on the received wisdom and habitual misuse of Hayek’s name to justify a great range of nonsense, whether it is a cold-hearted defence of callous economic rationalism, sometimes known by the grotesque misnomer of ‘neoliberalism’, or whether he is proposed as a menacing heathen idol in simplistic denunciations of free market economics.

The first of these essays, ‘Hayek versus Keynes’, by renowned Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky, closes a theoretical gap between John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August von Hayek to a matter of degrees rather than apparently irreconcilable differences.

The second essay, ‘Hayek and liberalism’, by Chandran Kukathas, tantalisingly suggests Hayek’s major impact should be a perpetual call to action, challenging those who can to become activists in defence of liberal values with truth rather than expedient propaganda, by admitting mistakes and shortcomings, but contrasting these with detailed examples of the failures of liberalism’s enemies, as well as the enormity of the consequences of those failures.  It is an eerily appropriate challenge from the past when applied to circumstances in the present.

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Conservatives need respectable bête noir

While I don’t agree with most of what New Statesman cultural editor Jonathan Derbyshire had to say in ‘The meaning of conservatism’, I nevertheless found the essay irresistible – for at least engaging in a conversation about conservatism that is critically necessary in the West, and because that project is, unfortunately, no more advanced than it was three years ago.

Bob Hawke
Robert James Lee Hawke.

Perhaps the most telling absence in Derbyshire’s essay was a consideration of the fundamentals in a healthy democracy: well-led parties opposing each other effectively on policy matters to promote robust debate and the emergence of better policy than would accrue from no debate, or discussion by pedestrian intellects only. I forgive Derbyshire’s omission for reasons of brevity and on-topic focus, but it is nevertheless a suitable starting point here.

On the day of Barack Obama’s re-election, one of the Australian commentators in the local election coverage was former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who made a characteristically acerbic and yet irresistibly accurate observation: there are no great leaders anywhere in the world at this time.

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