It has been said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Well, on any number of fronts, people in liberal democracies are currently "doing nothing", as our freedoms and the quality of our governance ever decline. And evil is winning.
Someone now famous once said:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Actually it was a middling, not especially famous, British eighteenth century politician and part-time philosopher called Edmund Burke. He is now popularly regarded as the father of modern conservatism, and one of the very important thinkers of the Enlightenment period. (Or at least the quotation has been attributed to Burke, by none other than John F Kennedy).
Burke was, of course, correct. He was consumed then by the awfulness of the French Revolution and its out-workings that led quickly to the reign of terror. The modern day examples of Burke’s well-known axiom are, alas, legion. Australia and much of the Western world’s democracies are taking on the characteristics of the freedom-destroying authoritarian and corrupt regimes and the crony capitalism more normally associated with the old regimes of Eastern Europe, South American banana republics and the sophisticated modern monster that is the Chinese Communist Party.
And the bulk of the populations of Western countries are sitting idly by, seemly not giving a toss about the removal of their freedoms, basic human rights and most recently, their jobs and wealth.
We are “doing nothing”, and “evil is triumphing”. What would Burke make of it all?
Four case studies will help to make the point, and demonstrate the continuing relevance of Burke’s canny observation. These are, in turn:
- The case of Professor Peter Ridd, formerly of James Cook University, and now cancelled for exercising his right to intellectual freedom;
- The case of corporate self-protection in the UK by public health bureaucrats, and the meek response by Brits to the erosion of their freedoms that is occurring with creeping Covid fascism;
- The emergence of the brutal and unopposed “cancel culture” that has appeared as political correctness 2.0; and, finally
- The rottenness that is NSW governance, with key decisions being steered by faceless self-boosters and nest-featherers enabled by gutless politicians.
All are examples of freedoms eroded and people kept in the dark, and of submissive voters sitting out the destruction of liberal democracy, either unaware of the parable of the boiling frog, or simply not caring that it is happening to us. Lenin might well think that we are extremely useful idiots.
Either way, Western democracies are pretty well done for, unless we wake up to what has been going on, and resolve to do something about it.
The Peter Ridd Case
Take the appalling decision by the Federal Court this week to side with James Cook University – known to its many admirers as Townsville Tech – against its former (sacked) academic, Professor Peter Ridd, for allegedly breaking the University’s code of conduct, some bullshit document concocted by Human Resources to enforce the corporatist values of the organisation, on pain of dismissal. As anyone who has worked for a corporation of even moderate size will know, codes of conduct are simply tools with which overpaid CEOs can bully their staff.
Ridd, a distinguished scholar and independent thinker – a species now all but extinct in Australia’s institutions of “higher” learning – committed the crime of daring to criticise the work of some of his academic colleagues over climate change and the fate of the Great Barrier Reef.
James Cook claims, with or without foundation, to be an expert on all matters to do with the Reef. Hence it claimed to have suffered reputational damage as a result of Ridd’s statements. You know, losing grants and the like. The things – the only things, to be honest – that Australia’s universities now care about. The old aphorism rings true now more than ever: don’t ever get between a vice chancellor and a bucket of money. God help you if you do. And the otherwise undistinguished Vice Chancellor of Townsville Tech is almost best-of-breed among her massively overpaid peers.
The Ridd matter is, of course, a case about free speech.
All of us have the right to free speech – in theory. In practice, nowadays, not so much. But for academics to be denied intellectual freedom is especially shocking. Speaking freely, critiquing colleagues, seeking the truth, even today’s devalued version of truth, publishing one’s evidence-based views to be exposed to debate and possible contradiction, to be a “community of scholars”, is the core business of the university. Or at least it was, before universities were corporatised and made merely vehicles of groupthink and modish green-left ideology. Now universities are neither communities nor scholarly. Hence the Ridd case. That a moderately respected court of this land would privilege corporatist rights over academic freedom at a university is borderline unthinkable. Except in today’s world it is quite thinkable, even expected.
So what will Australians do about this?
What will a government that controls the purse strings of universities do about it? The Institute of Public Affairs, rightly, is all over the Ridd case. More power to them. That outstanding, truth-telling Queensland politician, George Christensen, is also on the case, and making a public stand:
They may have won a court case, depriving Dr Peter Ridd of his academic freedom but JCU have completely lost me as a champion for anything they wish to do in the future. Not only will I not take any calls or correspondence from that university of any description but if I become aware of any funding proposals they’ve put to the federal government I will actively oppose such proposals until the university reinstates Dr Ridd and makes amends for its attack on academic freedom. I will continue to strongly back CQU Australia, which is a strong supporter of academic freedom and has a presence in Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.
I suspect the academic union, being no doubt in thrall to the god of climate alarmism, will give the middle finger to the principle (and to Ridd) and side with the corporate university in its denunciation of free speech and its own abandonment of scholarship. And I suspect that the issue will be quietly put to bed by Australia’s lamestream media and the bulk of its politicians. Will there be marching in the streets over this? Tim Wilson MP used to be the freedom commissioner at the Human Right Commission. Will he threaten to resign over this, to force the Morrison Government to do something? Don’t make me laugh. The parliament is populated by time-serving chancers.
The Government has a huge opportunity to woo back its by now almost totally cynical base. Why not threaten to withhold all funding from James Cook unless it re-writes its code of conduct to allow scholarship and free speech? And re-instate Peter Ridd. I will not be holding my breath. Will corporates refuse to partner with James Cook on research projects until it re-instates Ridd? Will local councils in Far North Queensland make statements in support of Ridd, and threaten to pull out of joint projects unless the University flips? You would have to be joking. The University employed one of Australia’s best and best-paid silks to prosecute its case against Ridd. Our money is no object in the corporate university’s attempts to destroy intellectual freedom. The University is not for turning.
No, Australia’s key institutions are asleep at the wheel on freedom of speech. These institutions that endlessly claim to be virtuous, do nothing. Evil wins.
The British NHS, Covid Fascism and the Protection of the Corporates
A second case of supine behaviour in the face of the new totalitarianism relates to the anonymous British National Health Service doctor (from Surrey) who recently revealed that the NHS had told all employees that if they spoke to the media or publicly on anything to do with the Covid scare, they would be terminated.
I am a consultant at a major regional hospital in Surrey. By major you can take that to indicate that we have an A&E department. I had agreed to give an interview to an anti- lockdown activist in which I would have revealed my identity. I have since changed my mind and only feel able to give an anonymous statement. I have changed my mind simply because that all staff , no matter what grade, at all hospitals have been warned that if they give any media interviews at all or make any statements to either the Main Stream Press or smaller, independent press /social media we may, immediately be suspended without pay. I have a family, dependents and I simply can’t do it to them.
Read the whole sorry tale – please do read it. The doctor goes on to detail some of lies, half-truths, exaggerations, fear mongering and general self-serving spin of the NHS and of Public Health England. The experts have been skating on very thin ice, and reputation protection is all. Whistleblowing is verboten. Under threat of dismissal. All those who put off potentially life saving cancer treatments (for example) because hospital essentially were forced by the British Government to go on strike, might be interested to know that Surrey hospitals are 95 per cent down on normal admissions.
This is simply corporate fascism.
The reason for the NHS’s fascism is that the NHS only values reputational self-protection at a time where institutional lies, obfuscation, hypocrisy and inconsistency rule the roost. The public health establishment fears that the truth will out, and that the whole government-led Covid fear campaign is built on a house of cards and supported by fear and loathing. Death porn, among other things. Fortunately – on condition of anonymity – this doctor did at least advise the world that, behind the curtain, they do not know what they are doing, and they lie to the people. About distancing, about masks, about lockdown, about lethality rates, about anything that might diminish the panic.
Those of us who have had the pleasure of working for a corporate organisation – and “corporate” now covers most institutions – will find the NHS tale all too familiar, and utterly unsurprising. The same woke corporation that routinely sends its employees off for “unconscious bias” re-training and diversity counselling (or whatever they call it) values above all reputational protection. Hence the “comms” unit is invariably located very close to the CEO’s office and is valued above most other units in the building. All media and other inquiries are directed there. Hence codes of conduct which enjoin staff not to speak out of turn.
Douglas Murray recently argued that virtually no one now except perhaps for the self-employed and retirees are really “free” to exercise their free speech rights. All employees are, in effect, slaves to the corporate values of their employers and to the ultimate need for corporates to preserve their reputations, at any cost. Even the self-employed, though, are seriously constrained, if they want future contracts from institutions that are woke or in some way constrained by government edicts. The social media mobs will come for anyone. David Starkey recently lost even non-paid positions after his minor outburst about race, genocide and slavery.
No, the NHS is merely one of thousands of institutions the world over who have succumbed to the requirements of the modern, coercive state and to the culture of surveillance. And duly conformed.
Covid fascism more generally, built upon lies, has turned the global economy into an economic rubbish tip. We have had nearly one trillion dollars of debt added to Australia’s already precariously geared economy – and admitted this week by the Treasurer – will take generations to pay back, if it ever is. We now face a period of depopulation – in same ways a very good thing, of course – re-inflation, personal indebtedness, rocketing unemployment, a crushed retail sector and many small businesses reduced to rubble. Remember that Australia’s economy from at least John Howard onwards has been propped up by the Ponzi scheme that is mass immigration. These days are now gone, at least for the foreseeable future. Does anyone even care that there is no Plan B on the horizon?
Covid fascism has denied us freedom of movement, freedom of association, except for preferred groups of the ideologically approved, made us, or at least some of us, wear muzzles that do not protect us from viruses anyway, restricted commerce to within an inch of its life, privileged one disease over all others, and caused still unmeasured social distress.
The British journalist James Delingpole recently attended a rally by Brits who were protesting at being forced to wear face nappies when shopping. Good on them.
As Delingpole noted, there were only a few hundred protesters there in London, an appalling reflection on (British) people’s priorities, their failure to understand the value of freedom and their inexplicable subservience before the now turbo-charged nanny state.
While gazillions turn out globally to protest against largely non-racist police in distant and largely irrelevant Minnesota, pretty well no one protests at the loss of freedom.
Do nothing – evil wins.
The third case of servile, non-freedom fighting behaviour relates to the ever growing disease of cancel culture. Cancel culture, as we know, includes anything from un-platforming in all its forms (Katie Hopkins, David Starkey, Lauren Southern, Melanie Phillips, Toby Young, Bettina Arndt), that is, denying writers and speakers who have transgressed progressive values the opportunity to publish their work, to actually sacking people from their jobs (Brendan Eich, former CEO of tech firm Mozilla, David Starkey, again). Eich’s “crime” was to have made a small donation years before his demise in 2014 to a Californian Proposition 8 organisation that supported traditional marriage.
The origins of political correctness, the progenitor of cancel culture, are familiar to readers of The Freedoms Project. If political correctness were a racehorse, its breeding might best be described as “by cultural and moral relativism out of victimhood”. The origins and the trajectory of creeping political correctness have been plotted and analysed, endlessly, by many on the right. Douglas Murray, already quoted, is one. Others include Christopher Caldwell and Bruce Bawer. While these writers are brilliant at explaining the process that has led us here, they are far less instructive as to what the solutions are. How we fight back.
Leftist buffoons like Owen Jones claim, absurdly, that cancel culture is non-existent, and simply a figment of the fevered imaginations of “far right” conspiracy theorists. As Mandy Rice-Davies would have opined – “well, he would say that, wouldn’t he”.
The legendary Canadian scholar Jordan Peterson did not so much object to the state (and the university) saying what he could not say, but rather telling him what he had to say, in relation to transgendered pronouns. This was surely as far as any so-called liberal democracy could go. Making it illegal NOT to say something. Well, those who are now finding themselves cancelled include Woody Allen, who some (implausibly, on the evidence) think molested an under-aged girl in his care, and, of all people, JK Rowling, the wokest of the woke herself. Throw in feminists like Germaine Greer as well. Now you can be cancelled for simply not being woke enough. The ubiquity of the internet as an endless resource for those engaged in “offence archaeology” (mining the past statements of “targets” on issues deemed sensitive by the new ruling class) has simply made the process of cancelling enemies oh so easy.
The classic response of conservatives and liberals to political correctness is ridicule. You know, “have you seen what they have done now – you won’t believe this?” Today’s version is the re-naming of Coon Cheese following the protest of a single “Aboriginal activist”. Everyone has his own favourite story about the absurdities of political correctness.
But the people “out there” in the suburbs seem to have little time for fighting a culture war. It mostly doesn’t affect the punters, other than to give them a good laugh. But cancel culture is no joke.
New South Wales Inc.
Not all examples of spineless acquiescence by people and institutions are about the denial of freedom. There is a fourth example of people simply going along with a rotten system that that is an utter corruption of democracy, from the top down.
I have previously written of the sublime business model of perfect vertical integration achieved under the Photios Industrial Complex that effectively runs New South Wales. Premier Consulting determines who gets pre-selected for the Liberal Party, shapes ministerial appointments, installs and de-installs premiers and (so they themselves argue) prime ministers, makes and implements green-left policies, and does most of the deals that matter in New South Wales.
At least two right-of centre publishing organs in Australia refused to publish my earlier article about Michael Photios. They are scared witless of his power, it seems. They don’t want to rock the right-of-centre boat. That most Australians have never heard of the guy makes his pivotal control of the State of New South Wales (and of Canberra to boot) even more remarkable, and, at the same time, sinister.
Now there are those who will argue that lobbyists are (alas) a necessity in the era of big government and crony capitalism. All sides of politics do it. And that Michael Photios is simply the best at this job. The interest group theory of democracy is as old as the 1950s, and the public choice theorists of the 1970s have done a cracking job at explaining how the interests of politicians and bureaucrats drive the democratic process.
Hang on a minute. Which of us ever consented to running governments as a protection racket for mates? Who among us agreed to decisions being made on the disbursement of public resources by lobbyists charging tens of thousands of dollars for making a couple of phone calls? To ministers who they themselves are responsible for installing as ministers, as members of parliament.
No, the public’s rewarding of the NSW Liberal Party with further time in office is simply going along with a rotten system.
It not just that the current NSW Government plotted and then imposed infanticide-on-demand on the State, in secret cahoots with the egregious Green member Alex Greenwich. It is not just that those alleged Liberal heroes who “put their jobs on the line” over the abortion bill, and then simply rolled over when bought off. It is not just that the NSW Government locked down a state in the face of a relatively minor health scare and conspired to destroy a state economy. It is not just that the NSW Government wasted three billion dollars on a tram track that was not needed or wanted. It is not that the Government razed a perfectly good sports stadium to the ground, for no gain. It is not just that this same Government is covering up bungles left, right and centre. (Someone should ask Gladys why NorthConnex hasn’t opened, for example).
But, you might (correctly) point out, the State of New South Wales is not the only failed state in Australia. Just look south, for insanity cubed. Those below the Murray are ruled by a lunatic. Or north of the Tweed, for that matter. And no, one cannot with any ease look to the NSW Opposition for redemption. Just remember when they were last in office. A goodly proportion of them ended up in gaol.
These things are bad enough. No, much worse about the failing state of Gladys is HOW the state is governed. Or mis-governed. And, worst of all, how the people of New South Wales just go along with it. With the mates club. With the corruption of pre-selections. With the endless, tawdry deals (the return to Cabinet of the ghastly Don Harwin in return for the non-relocation of an inner city iconic museum previously planned to be forcibly removed to Parramatta) . With the cronyism. The Liberal Party will never reform itself, and escape the rottenness. It is up to the people to act.
But, alas, the politics served up to the people of New South Wales are simply testimony to the acquiescence of an ill-informed, servile electorate that appears willing to put up with banana republic quality governance, just as that same electorate seems either unaware of the erosion of our basic freedoms, or massively unwilling to do anything about that either.
Do nothing. Evil wins.
The whole woke corporate movement, the ascendancy of PC and cancel culture, the growth of crony capitalism, and, most recently and appallingly, the coming of Covid totalitarianism, have occurred right under our now bloodied noses, and on the watch of governments left, right and centre. Liberty drains away. Governments elected to safeguard our freedoms no longer do so. Not only that. They themselves have led the charge in taking our freedoms away. And this includes politicians who have been elected in party pre-selections where no doubt they earnestly quoted John Stuart Mill and other liberals in an attempt to convince us of their principles and credentials.
Why are the people so submissive? There are a number of theories, at least in relation to Covid submissiveness. One is that people actually believe the government propaganda and the associated media infomercials continually spat out by the now totally tame media. Clearly many people do.
Another theory is that isolated, locked down people simply do not have access to the cynicism that is abroad among their peers. The water cooler conversations are simply no longer occurring. Divide and rule.
A third theory is that all the mediating organisations that are carrying out the instructions of government, like shopping malls and retailers, simply want the quiet life and don’t want to cause trouble. No food courts. Throw the blame back on the government. Or on the disease.
A fourth explanation is that the average punter simply lacks the access to alternate media, or even the knowledge that alternate media exist. In other words, it is simply down to ignorance. The alternate media at least is open to challenging the status quo and the false information fed to the people by governments and the “experts”.
A fifth explanation is that, alas, people simply do not generally cherish what they might think are “low level” freedoms, and will only get really pissed off when they are prevented from doing things they regard as core business. So what if the churches are shuttered, so long as Dan Murphy isn’t. This, of course, has been the Government’s strategy in enforcing the lockdown. Keep the punters just contented enough not to revolt. Alert AND alarmed, and so rendered servile. Make everyone wards of the state, as long as it takes, forever if need be.
A sixth, and most alarming, explanation for Covid (and other) submissiveness, is that many people actually like being owned by the state. They intuitively accept what the government says, because it is the government, and the government is both honest and well intentioned. Those metaphorically christened Karen, the curtain twitchers, might even help the state a little to round up the recalcitrants. (Blind faith in government lies is not new, after all. Remember that half the population (roughly) believes the ruling class’s propaganda about climate change).
What about the innocent fishermen on the Melbourne wharf moved along by Victorian Police? I am guessing that they simply wanted to avoid fines on matters of principle. There is a lot of this abroad. We all want to avoid trouble. Go along, mumble, be grumpy, but still just go along.
What was it that Edmund Burke was saying, again?
All is not lost. There are green shoots of a fightback. Certainly in the UK. The creation of the Free Speech Union (of which I am a member) is a straw in the wind. They are doing sterling work to support those who have been cancelled and have their lives destroyed by the mob. Their client list is ever-growing, too.
But this is a very small node of a very early stage fightback. The Institute of Public Affairs here does its best, but again, without popular impact and (clearly) diminishing clout in Canberra. There is little cut-through to the public, to the media, to the elites and certainly not to governments of any persuasion. Politicians and leaders who fight for freedom and for the rights of individuals, especially for those on struggle street, are treated without mercy by the elites. Witness the fate of Hanson in Australia and Trump in the USA. The attempted coups by the Deep State against Trump are simply without precedent in US history.
But back to the subservience of the Australian people.
All those Chinese immigrants in Australia, students and others, who are ceaselessly monitored by the Chinese Communist Party and made, in effect, colonial servants of their State, at least have an excuse for supine obedience. They probably fear for their welfare, for their lives even, and for the welfare of those that they have left back home. What is the excuse for Australians who collaborate with our own increasingly totalitarian governments? We roll over in the face of the state, universities, bureaucracies and corporates who dictate more and more how we live, what we can say, and even what we think. They confine us to our homes, on a lie. They enlist Stasi-like helpers to do their coercive work.
That’s not freedom, at least not as I have always understood it. What would Edmund Burke think, I wonder?
Everywhere, good men are doing nothing. Do nothing, evil wins.