In his book, The Revolt of the Elites, US author Christopher Lasch describes as elite the
opinions of the typical upper-middle-class small-l liberal left wing on social and cultural issues.
In Australia, the media, the university humanities faculties and the arts are replete with elite opinion.
The so-called elites are the modern equivalent of the guardians in Plato's Republic who, because
of their self-assumed superior knowledge, intelligence and morality are entitled, indeed destined, to guide the ship of state.
Meanwhile, the mainstream, while accepting gradual change, remains attached to our traditional beliefs and institutions. Along with Edmund Burke, they believe
that society is a parnership, a partnership between those who are alive today, those who have gone before us and those yet to be born.
That there should be such a divergence of views is not in itself a matter of concern. Rather, it is that so much of the elite agenda was achieved during
the past three decades without the consent of the people and even against their wishes.
One technique was to remove difficult items from political debate. Hence the attraction of judicial activism, where the judges make laws parliaments would
not dare enact. The agitation for a bill of rights has little to do with rights and everything to do with an elite agenda. Another method has been to transfer
power to international institutions, sometimes even without a vote in parliament.
The party machines, especially at the state level, have also been targeted. The Labor Party was first, so much so that Kim Beazley Sr lamented that while
once the branches consisted of the cream of the working class, they now consist of the dregs of the middle class. Another target was public discourse itself.
So those who dare present the traditional views of most Australians are inevitably branded as conservative, or worse. But members of the elite commentariat are presented
to the public as if they are mainstream - which of course they are not. If you believe in cultural relativism, or that crime should not be followed by punishment,
or that our borders should be thrown open - in sum if you oppose traditional institutions and values - you are hardly in the mainstream.
When we celebrated the centenary of Federation in May 2001 - one of the world's most successful experiments in peaceful and democratic nation-building - the floor
seemed to be mainly given to the sort of people who write to newspapers expressing their shame in being Australian. One even argued in an official Federation lecture
that Australia's "big picture ideas" were not only racist - they were no different from those of Nazi Germany! Why weren't those who are unashamedly proud to be Australians given at least equal billing? Hardly any were invited.
The elites have been spectacularly successful in their campaign against the concept of individual responsibility that is so central to our culture. The argument
goes like this: It's better if decisions about matters such as education and health are taken out of our hands to be determined by the guardians - even if we have
to pay more for the privilege.
So, too, in the area of law and order. The problem of the violence and depravity of a growing underclass in Western countries is, as British writer Theodore Dalrymple argues, not so much because of welfare dependency, it is rather the result of the ideas that have filtered down from our elites.
Simply put, crime and antisocial activity are explained as the result of disadvantage, and again, only the elites can cure that - at of course a cost.
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