October 4, 2006


Speech from the heart cements a place in history: John Howard's Quadrant address recalls 50 years of the left's worst excesses (Miranda Devine, October 5, 2006, Sydney Morning Herald)

Recalling some of the worst excesses of the pro-communist left in the 1950s and '60s, Howard cited Manning Clark's book Meeting Soviet Man, "where he likened the ideals of Vladimir Lenin to those of Jesus Christ"; and John Burton, the former head of the External Affairs Department, "arguing that Mao's China provided a model for the transformation of Australia"; and "all those who did not simply oppose Australia's commitment in Vietnam but who actively supported the other side and fed the delusion that Ho Chi Minh was some sort of Jeffersonian Democrat intent on spreading liberty in Asia".

He quoted George Orwell: "One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool."

He scoffed at the view that these people were "no more than a bunch of naive idealists, rather than what they were: ideological barrackers for regimes of oppression opposed to Australia and its interests".

And he warned that the "soft left" that had morphed out of such "philo-communism" of Australia in the 1950s and '60s "still holds sway, especially in Australia's universities, by virtue of its long march through the institutions".

He charted the morphing of the communist left into a new left counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s that attempted to redefine the Cold War as a struggle in which the sides were morally equivalent.

"It became the height of intellectual sophistication to believe that people in the West were no less oppressed than people under the yoke of communist dictatorship."

It was important, he said, to remember the great ideological struggles were fought and won, not by impersonal forces, but by courageous individuals, "who took up the cause of cultural freedom and the defence of liberal democracy against its enemies".

They were the founders and editors of Quadrant, people such as the Polish immigrant businessman Richard Krygier, the poet James McAuley, Peter Coleman, Bob Santamaria, Heinz Arndt and Frank Knopfelmacher, who took on the communist left and were "part of a noble and moral cause".

And there were the three "towering figures of the late 20th century" whose moral clarity led to the defeat of Soviet communism: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II.

Today, again, we face a new tyranny, "the tyranny of Islamist terrorism, one with at least a family resemblance to the great struggles against forces of totalitarianism in the past. And just as past struggles called for clear and unambiguous statements of belief and purpose, so we must again make very clear what is at stake."

He emphasised that "this is not a struggle against Islam. It is a struggle against a perverted interpretation of Islam …

"The fact is we are part of a global campaign for the very ideals that some people wistfully dreamed were unchallengeable after the Cold War … This too will be a generational struggle for ideals of democratic freedom and liberty under law."

Because they aren't challengeable that it won't take a generation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 4, 2006 9:13 AM
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