Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Howard and Putin: Soul Mates

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-11-12


Consider the following statement by a national leader on the proper teaching of history:

"We can’t allow anyone to impose a sense of guilt on us."

Does this sound familiar to Australians?

How about the conference of tame historians to develop the curriculum, the history manual that has been produced to "clear the muddle" in the minds of history teachers who can no longer be trusted to define the curriculum?

"Our history did contain some problematic pages, but so did other states’ histories.  We have fewer of them than other countries, and they were less terrible than in some other countries."

This is not from our Dear Leader, John Howard, but actually Putin’s program to promote expansionist and regressive nationalism, not merely an apologist for violations of human rights under Stalin, but putting the fiction that the times demanded it.  Putin is quoted on this in The Economist (2007-11-10):

"The domestic politics of the Soviet Union after the war fulfilled the tasks of mobilization which the government set.  In the circumstances… democratization was not an option for Stalin’s government."  (Putin’s line is that) the concentration of power in Stalin’s hands suited the country: indeed, the conditions of the time "demanded it".

The rising abuses of executive power and disrespect for traditional accountabilities in Putin’s Russia are obvious, and the same process has been happening under Howard as described in the letter to The Age (2007-10-12) jointly authored by respected former PMs from both sides of politics: former mortal enemies Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam, once considered to be on the extreme right and extreme left.

Now these two luminaries are seen as on the same side, both in favour of traditional democratic processes, human rights, and strong institutions.  The other side, the Howard/Costello Coalition regime and ALP syncophants nominally opposing the government, seem happy with rule by executive fiat, the curtailing of traditional legal processes, the derogation of parliamentary duties, whenever convenient.  And isn’t that all the time?

Quadrant, both cheerleader and mouthpiece for radicals like Howard, has been a major player in the recent rewriting of history to suit the regressive agenda: Australia’s in particular by Keith Windschuttle and western civilization’s in general by George Pell.  They are no different from Kremlin ideologues.

There are similarities in the reaction of the masses.  From The Economist again:

… arguments about history often stir greater passions than do debates about the present or future.  What kind of country Russia becomes will depend in large part on what kind of history it chooses.

A final observation by an Oxford professor of Russian culture on Putin’s regime also applies to the difference between how Howard describes himself and what he does:

But a conservative ideology demands respect for institutions, while an ideology of a charismatic leader requires a grand vision.  They have neither.


See Also:

  • The History Wars (2006-11-02) on respected conservative education history texts that are extremely useful.
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