Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

OMG! I agree with Roskam!

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-08-15


I thought I’d never agree to anything written by John Roskam (of the uber-capitalist Institute of Public Affairs).  If we share contempt for government action, it’s unlikely the government is justified in that action.  Yet the conclusions and arguments of Roskam’s opinion piece in The Age (2007-08-15), "This is no test of good citizens" mirror my own: see "Citizenship testing committee gives minister slap on wrist") (2007-07-31), and "Review of Citizenship Testing Bill submissions" (2007-07-05).

And we both agree with the dissenting reports of the Democrats and the Greens, while disagreeing with the Liberals and ALP who supported the bill!  That must be a first for Roskam.

So I’ll only discuss a minor point put by Roskam:

Another question from the draft test asked about the basis of Australia’s values. Possible answers were (a) teaching of the Koran; (b) the Judeo-Christian tradition; (c) Catholicism; (d) Secularism. According to the Government, the correct response was (b).

Undoubtedly the Judeo-Christian tradition has been enormously influential in shaping Australian values, but so has secularism. In fact, it could be argued that in recent times secularism has been more significant in shaping public attitudes than any values derived from religious belief.

Apart from the use of the US convention "Judeo" rather than "Judaeo" (or even "Judæo) in question and answer, it’s worth looking at the possible answer to this question:

First, The Q’ran comes wholly rom the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and indeed is pretty much an "average" of the two in many respects.  Catholicism is also wholly contained within the Judaeo-Christian tradition.  Thus, these choices are not mutually exclusive.

Second, imagine a Venn diagram of Abrahamist, secularist, and liberal democratic values.  There is greater overlap between secularist and Liberal democratic values, while those elements of the Abrahamic traditions not found in the secular tradition are also not found in the liberal democratic tradition.

This implies the Liberal Party considers the non-secular, non-liberal-democratic components of Abrahamist traditions to be the more important influence on Australian society.  Unfortunately, there is a lot to support such a view.

The Judaic tradition is ethnocentric and indeed inherently racist, applauds the genocide of others (e.g. Canaanites), and supports the idea of anointed monarchs.

The Christian tradition has also mainly supported monarchs (the divine right of kings) since it’s lickspittling subservience to the sponsor Constantine.  Over hundreds of years it supported the idea that the power hierarchy was always correct, supported pogroms or crusades against non-Christians, the persecution of independent thought of scientists and philosophers (most famously when Galileo was threatened with torture for his recording of astronomical phenomena).

The secular tradition (inherited from the pagan intellectuals of Greece and Rome), on the other hand, developed democracy, a cosmopolitan society inclusive of other religions and races, a system of trial-by-jury, the adherence to an evolving body of law rather than the arbitrary decisions of religious bodies or annointed monarchs, the celebration of science and philosophy.

So it seems that the Abrahamist tradition describes our baser aspects while the pagan secular tradition is responsible for our nobler ambitions and institutions.

It’s no wonder the Howard regime, crusader in the Middle East, usurper of arbitrary powers traditionally held by independent courts, authoritarian rather than consultative and democratic, promoter of xenophobia, unrepentant for genocidal activity during the foundation of the state, discounter of evidence-based policy recommendations, identifies the Judaeo-Christian tradition as the basis for the Australia that it fosters.

Unfortunately, with the behaviour of the Australian people, careless with liberty, uncritical of strong men in authority, suggests that Howard may be right in his assessment of the main influence on modern Australia.


Compare and Contrast:
I wonder what our fellow ANZACs across the ditch in New Zealand would say to such a combination of question and answer, given their rejection of state-endorsed religion, their treatment of indiginous peoples (Waitangi, and much since), and their rejection of accepting the will of the executive of the USA as gospel?  I wonder which country holds better to the ideals of a liberal?

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4 Responses to “OMG! I agree with Roskam!”

  1. Slim said

    I read this at lunch time and was thinking the same thing. I guess by the law of random averages he was bound to say something intelligent eventually!

    Still I suspect it has something to do with the current trend among the MSM Howard cheer squad trying to distance themselves from the impending train wreck and salvaging some shred of intellectual integrity in the process. After all, people like Roskam will still be wanting the op-ed gig after Howard has gone. Better start looking like an objective analytical journalist.

  2. Bruce said

    I’m still not quite sure why people fuss over the Judeo/Judaeo distinction. It seems to pop up more often than other UK/US English distinctions (which personally I’m non-plussed about).

    Is there some other significance? “Judeo” being a fundy-right Christian spelling deemed subtly anti-semetic?

  3. Dave Bath said

    I’m just a pedantic so-and-so, and prefer to include the more archæic spelling that preserves etymology, and it’s got zilch to do with this particular example: indeed I’m so pedantic you’ll notice I’ll use the a/e ligature ("æ") when I can.
    ;-)

    It would be interesting if it’s the government’s spelling or Roskam’s spellchucker is set to US english because he can’t configure it.

  4. […] has already been the star of previous Balneus posts here (unsurprisingly, a negative review) and here (a "Shock! Horror! Roskam has a point!" […]

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