April 21, 2003


Neo-socialists versus neoconservatives (Avraham Tal, 4/21/03, Ha'aretz)
Besides the Histadrut labor federation, the parliamentary opposition, and dozens of social organizations, a broad front of social affairs experts has come out against the government's economic austerity program. In the past, professors and lecturers from social work schools and other schools had reservations about individual issues, but it seems that the social aspects of the current plan have evoked an unprecedented level of vehement and broad criticism.

It's possible to understand when criticism is leveled at the specific social elements of a plan, but in this case, what's amazing are the generalizations some critics have employed to couch their critiques. With a tone of absolute certainty, they have reached sweeping conclusions that they would likely not allow for within their own scientific research.

Particularly bothersome is their reading of the program as a deliberate attempt by the planners to wipe out the welfare state, or at least "delegitimize its ideas," as one of them was quoted in an April 16 article by Ruth Sinai. Another thinks the plan "is clearly meant to harm the social security of the citizens of Israel," because the government believes "it's a shame to waste money on the weak sectors of the population, since they are not productive."

Such nonsense is barely worthy of a fire-breathing politician from the opposition, let alone someone who wears the cloak of academia. "The right does not regard education as productive, only as a social expense," says another, while ignoring the fact that spokesmen for the right, just like spokesmen for the left, are committed to the position that the future of the state's security is dependent on the level of education given to the next generation (which doesn't mean there is no room for efficiency measures). "The neoconservative position cynically exploits the distortions created by political bribery (to the Haredim - A.T.) to destroy the welfare state which they fundamentally do not believe in," adds a spokesman for the neo-socialists, who then analyzes the ramifications of globalization from the social perspective: global systems have no commitment to the poor in Dimona, only to maximizing profits, and in that same spirit, the state is now ridding itself of responsibility for the weakest in society.

Neo-cons get a powerful voice (Robert Manne, April 21 2003, The Age)
Among the political intelligentsia a kind of public conversation concerning values is perpetually going on. Unlike the US and Britain, Australia does not have influential intellectual magazines. As a consequence, it is mainly in the pages of our quality newspapers - The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review and The Australian - that this conversation is conducted.

If one of these papers changes political direction, the ears of the intelligentsia prick. In recent months many of its members have been privately discussing the rather rapid ideological shift of The Australian towards the kind of neo-conservatism currently dominant on the right side of the "culture wars" being fought out in the US. [...]

Neo-conservatism is the ideology founded on the 1970s marriage of anti-communism with free-market liberalism. At its centre is the belief in the possibility of spreading Western economic and political values across the globe and the conviction that, to achieve this victory, the baleful influence exercised by self-hating left-wing intellectuals on the home front must be destroyed.

As David Brock shows in his defection memoir, Blinded by the Right, in the US Rupert Murdoch has been the most important financier, in both the serious and popular media, of the neo-conservative cause. Given this, it should come as no surprise that in Australia his flagship paper has finally been mobilised in the service of the crusade.

Is there anywhere in the world that the neocons aren't secretly running the show? Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2003 10:17 PM
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