Every so often I am provided with a piece of writing, where the author purports to be a “conservative”, so that I may offer comment as to its bona fides. The state of popular conservatism being what it is, particularly among the student population, I have become accustomed to being presented with confused pieces where the authors produce a milieu of neo-conservatism and classic liberalism, spiced up with a few libertarian impulses for good measure. However, this time I have been asked to comment upon one of the most nauseatingly misguided pieces of writing I have ever had to comment upon, so-much-so that it serves as a useful example of what young conservatives on campus should use as a guiding example of what to avoid.
The piece entitled “Islam and Islamophobia in Australia”, published in Sydney University’s Conservative Club journal The Sydney Tory1 is wonderfully instructive in exposing everything that is wrong with self-styled “conservatism” in young Australia today. The author confesses to being a student – hopefully he is receptive to learning. The point I wish to illustrate is that the use of “conservatism” as a descriptor of the views he is promoting at Sydney University will actually do conservatism² significant damage. With any luck he’ll realise that he isn’t a conservative at all – not even close – and promptly stop using the term.
As a general example, when one reads a title like this and is told that the author is writing for the purposes of a “conservative publication” the last thing one expects is for the author to co-opt and endorse the epithets of his ideological enemies. Well, sadly, this is precisely what this writer does with this modernist homage to ideas usually found in the Green Left Weekly. Instead of eschewing terms like “multiculturalism” and “Islamophobia” as if being offered an ebola sandwich, they are given credence and are embraced as useful terms by which we should be guided. I have rejected the ebola sandwich, but here I find myself being asked if I’d like “fries with that.”
The piece is designed to praise the reaction of the Australian public vis-à-vis Muslims in the wake of the Martin Place executions.³ Australians are congratulated for their “maturity” which is “testament to the multicultural values” which have supposedly “underpinned Australian society” in recent decades. It is alarming enough that the writer is so supportive of this social engineering practice, but his credibility is in jeopardy when he cites as “evidence” of the Australian public’s virtue, the public hoax organised by extreme left activists known as #Illridewithyou. Despite his professed concern with extremism, the author unwittingly cites it in aid of his cause.
Neither does the author see the contradiction (which is almost as large as a catalogue of terrorist acts committed in the name of Islam over the last decade) in his defending multiculturalism whilst simultaneously denouncing State intervention and government control. If ever there was a policy of social engineering in Australia – imposed yet unvoted for – that the citizenry continually decries in every straw poll, then multiculturalism was it.4 Specifically – time and time again – it has been shown that the average Australian has a decided preference on the question of Islam be it immigration, integration, schooling or dress. This is one sure example of the “Political Elites” imposing upon the populace what they know to be good for them.
This is where we start to get to the heart of the matter. The writer makes no reference to Australia’s Anglophone culture – it’s needs or preservation.5 He is as oblivious to the very concept of Tradition as an infant is to a Stephen Hawking lecture. What he does understand of Australian culture however is our “undercurrent of xenophobia” whose apogee manifested in the “notorious” White Australia policy. Like a cat o’ nine-tails to whip the convicts with, straight out of the uber-left rhetorical playbook, the writer throws unsympathetic and un-analysed clichés at the citizenry he was just praising … or was he? You see, the Australia he calls xenophobic isn’t just any Australia – what this writer means is those Anglo-Australians.6
So much for the “melting pot of Australian multiculturalism” he praises. The cracks appear within his own words as does the chip upon his shoulder. The disguise provided for the autobiographical anecdotes is so thin it’s like calling a handkerchief a burqa. Lines like “Growing up in an Australia school one also learns a number of colourful epithets for non-whites” call upon the implied authenticity of his experience. The phrasing is that of the outsider – and the focus shifts from merely ‘foreign’ to distinctly “non-white”. The writer seems ignorant of Australian modes of acceptance that have always been pursued through rough humour, as any kiwi, pom, kraut, frog, box-head, wop, mick, canuck and saffer knows (all whilst being particularly White). Such facets of the Australian character (and he means Anglo-Australian) are described as either “explicit” or “implicit” racism, they are never actually understood for what they are.
Clearly our writer takes this very personally, and in so doing acknowledges unwittingly that he doesn’t in fact understand the Anglo-Australian at all. In fact his entire attitude to Anglo-Australia is hostile throughout the article – so much for the assertion “most ethnic groups have assimilated effectively.” If his intention was to defuse any animosity Anglo-Australians may have towards more recent migrants, he is likely to achieve the opposite effect. His attitude screams “I don’t want Anglos being self-aware. If they buck up against any encroaching Islamisation – then I’ll be next! Yikes!” When Anglo-Australia considers its position re Islamification, especially in light of overseas experience (like any good conservative exercising prudence would do), the young writer sees stormtroopers. Just like Ben Kenobi, he waves a hand across our face telling us “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”. Well call me Jabba – but that mind trick doesn’t work on me. This attitude of “keep calm and only worry about extremists” misses the entire point and doesn’t address the underlying anxiety, at all.
All his defensiveness however reflects a matter of even deeper concern for any conservative. The writer’s conception of society is clearly liberal and left-liberal at that. He does acknowledge that migrants have changed Australia (wonder how the Anglos feel about that?) but justifies this (hmmm – he must therefore believe that change creates threat, otherwise he wouldn’t feel compelled to justify it) by suggesting that such changes have always been “through the established legal and judicial system”. Ignoring the obvious falsity of this statement that the endless shootings in Western Sydney attest to (let’s do a demographic analysis of the names involved in all the news reports shall we?), what it reveals is the standard liberal-left position. Like a sociology student curled up on a bean-bag with his copy of Rawls, the writer is ‘Locked’ into a position of regarding our society as being a positive legal construct and nothing more. The only notion of “organic” in this writer’s world is the tofu he pinched from the Socialist Alliance member’s salad at his regular lunch table. He identifies the main concern of Australians as the looming spectre of Sharia Law – utterly oblivious to the fact that many Australians, even as young as their mid-thirties, have seen their entire society transformed beyond recognition and without their permission. What do we expect, however, from someone who demonstrates absolutely no understanding of the Traditions and aesthetics treasured by Anglo-Australia?
Just when you think the sympathies with all the enemies of Conservatism have dissipated, our esteemed writer recruits the feminists on to his Anglophobic bandwagon – I guess misery loves company. His criticism of Sharia (but never Islam, that would be a liberal taboo) is its treatment of women. Of all matters first on a Conservative’s mind – The Common Law? The Rule of Law? Sources of authority? Threats to cultural Tradition? – no, it’s misogyny and feminism, every conservative’s friend. Standing up for a political ideology that takes as its starting point that objectivity is an illusion socially constructed by white men to maintain a power superstructure isn’t chalking up a win in the conservative column. This fellow needs to admit that he’s a liberal and stop trying to pass himself off as a conservative.
At this point even the writer’s “cuckservative” credentials are at Defcon Othello. No matter how many Desdamonas leave the harem throwing strawberry pattern hijabs at him, his rhetoric is unsustainable in anything other than a liberal paradigm.
This brings us to the final piece of the puzzle – why does the writer pass himself off as a conservative? He is so clearly a political liberal why does he even want to be included in a conservative publication? The big clue comes with his phrase “Secular Australian attitudes have historically regarded any non-Western influence with caution.” Despite the fact that he uses the term “secular” enough to make Saint-Simon blush I think we have a “liberal with lacunae” on our hands. Implied in what he says is that non-secular Australians are different. Despite the fact that our writer outwardly promotes a series of political beliefs and philosophies hostile to the church, I bet we have a believer on our hands. Not just any believer, but one who in spite of his modernist tendencies stands firm against the great anti-life troika: abortion, homosexuality and euthanasia. I bet London to a brick that he takes a hardline Christian position on these matters making him awkward company with his fellow liberals less religiously inclined. So, hearing the religious right criticised as “conservatives” by the atheist left, he assumes the title without looking any deeper into it.
Well sorry dear writer, you can hold a Bible so tightly that your fingerprints can be read from Adam’s birthday to the Second Coming – but that doesn’t make you a conservative. It means that you have a set of opinions within a very narrow bandwidth that you and conservatives can agree upon – but for very different reasons.
One would have thought that his espoused “privatisation” of religious belief would cause great conflict with his desire to use state power to regulate what people do with their own bodies? He isn’t going to tell me about the ‘common good” now is he? Whose common good would that be in this ghettoised polis held together by mere positive law?
This writer clings to this utopic hope that, through the correct therapy of multiculturalism, Australia can have its world immanent paradise of harmony. All it takes is for Anglo-Australia to forsake its identity and meaning. They’ll try nicely – but eventually some state coercion may be required – as it always has when taking note of history. The writer should consider his Huxley more than his Orwell. The kindly controllers can be even more effective at lulling a population into oblivion. No doubt I need more “education” and perhaps even “medication” and “psychotherapy”.
The concluding, sickening paragraphs of this piece show a concern to ensure that the “terrorist archetype” is not “projected on all people of the faith.” The usual, rote learned, push button responses about community and government working together, susceptible young males, “moderate” Islam and so on are churned out like a feast of fairy floss for Pavlov’s dogs. For good measure – where would a giant rainbow cake of liberal sugar baked by Unikitty be without its cherry on top of reductio ad hitleram. We are warned sternly that “One does not need to look far back in history to see the horrifying consequences of vilification of an entire religion.” This coming from a writer who a few paragraphs earlier was praising the government’s “vehement opposition to the controversial 18C law”7 (by the way – how’s the government’s commitment going on that front? By any chance did they get spooked by any of these marvellously “integrated” ethnic groups concerned about “horrifying consequences of vilification of an entire religion?”).
This whole sad affair suffers from critical defects based upon ignorance. Not a single conservative text, writer, philosophical stand point, idea or thinker is cited throughout the whole piece. It is a monument to liberalism and the minuscule flashes of non-liberal sympathy don’t save it from its ultimate fate. Sprinkling some black truffle on a dog turd isn’t going to make me want to eat it.
– Luke Torrisi
The author is a retired legal practitioner and now an academic researcher and host of Carpe Diem, Sydney’s only explicitly Traditionalist and Paleoconservative radio programme broadcasting on 88.9FM, between 8:00 to 10:00pm, Mondays.
- Jared Choong, “Islam and Islamophobia in Australia” The Sydney Tory (Sydney University Conservative Club; Semester 1, 2015) pp 12-14.
- Luke Torrisi, Address at the Conservative Speakers Series of the University of Technology Sydney Conservative Club, University of Technology Sydney, Broadway (8 April 2015).
- Editorial, “Progressives are ‘Shocked, Shocked!’” SydneyTrads (15 December 2014) <sydneytrads.com> (accessed 17 September 2015).
- Luke Torrisi, “Multiculturalism by Another Name” SydneyTrads (11 September 2013) <sydneytrads.com> (accessed 17 September 2015).
- See generally: the exchange between Luke Torrisi and Mervyn Bendle, Quadrant Dinner, Union University & Schools Club, Sydney (22 April 2015) and also by the writer: “Conservative Tales No. 1: The Instruction of Tradition” (29 October 2012), “Conservative Tales No. 2: Tradition as Language” (20 November 2013), “Ideology in our Vexicology” (9 March 2013), “William of Cloudeslee: Who is He?” (18 September 2013), (all at SydneyTrads and accessed 17 September 2015).
- This is no surprise given the cultural and political environment of student radicalism and leftist self-hatred that permeates the campus at Sydney University. For an example, see the Editorial “Award for National Self-Effacement at Sydney University’s Student Paper” SydneyTrads (12 October 2012) <sydneytrads.com> (accessed 17 September 2015).
- For more on the controversy concerning Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), see the Editorials, “‘Establicons’ Turning Away from Coalition” (1 June 2014) and “Quadrant Predicts Possible Voter Backlash Against Abbott Government” (15 June 2014), (all at SydneyTrads and accessed 17 September 2015).
- Footnoting is by SydneyTrads Editors.