"The legal system does not deal well with local and practical knowledge, the wisdom to know when a rule should be applied and when it should be bent. It does not do well with humility, tolerance and patience – virtues that are hard to put into a rule and can be achieved only in a specific situation. It inevitably generates angry reactions and populist uprisings."
Yet it's rarely recognised such uprisings are rational, far more in touch with reality than elite culture. Supporters of disruptive candidates like Trump and Pauline Hanson understand neither Washington nor Canberra can inaugurate social harmony. Though often expressed crudely, they sense Australia needs to make a paradigm shift from centralised power to a more neighbourly approach for managing human affairs.
Despite promises to listen more, to put people first and promote grassroots democracy, it should be no surprise nothing changes. The qualitative and intimate nature of our social fabric is a direct threat to the establishment and its impersonal systems of control.
Western society rebelled against a micro-managing, hypocritical ruling class some time ago, back when homosexuality was an official abomination and the priesthood punished non-compliance with an iron fist.
Centuries on, and we're at serious risk of replacing one dogmatic regime with its mirror image.
Today, homosexuality is to be celebrated, or else. It's insufficient to merely accept same-sex marriage. All Australians must show allegiance to the new orthodoxy. Dare to think or say Messi is better, and you'll be persecuted and made to renounce your beliefs on the grounds you're a bigot who suspects Cristiano is gay.
Malcolm Turnbull is caught in no-man's land – and a couple of by-election wins is not going to change this.
There is no appeasing the Culture War factions because, at the end of the day, the progressive left and conservative right are marching down the same track. Yes, they yell and scream at each other, and talk up community, free speech and personal responsibility, but this is largely a distraction from a shared attachment to elite power.
If Turnbull wants a legacy, he needs to defuse the conflict and tension by going radical.
Step 1: no new laws protecting religious belief.
Step 2: affirm the magnanimous love and self-confidence that carried the same-sex marriage plebiscite by repealing Australia's anti-discrimination and hate speech laws.
Time to grow up and deal with the truth. Social unity can't be coerced. The middle ground we crave must be created by everyday people dealing with their differences in good faith, based on local knowledge and wisdom.
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