Wednesday, September 14, 2005

POLITICS/COMMENT: On the Dangers of Young Liberal neo-Conservatism

We are often told that conservative politics is about maintaining certain traditional values. Conservatism seeks to maintain in place certain social values which are said to be tried and tested, unbroken and therefore not in need of fixing.

Conservatives are not opposed to change, but they are opposed to revolution. Conservative change is gradual. It takes into account individual and collective human nature which resists sudden and violent change. Conservatives believe in evolutionary change, a kind of political “survival of the fittest”.

Conservatives in the Australian context tend to regard themselves also as medium to big “L” Liberals. John Howard is often quoted as saying that the relatively more conservative Liberal Party of Australia is a broad church encompassing conservative and liberal strands.

But in my opinion, conservatism has been hijacked by emotional and political refugees from the liberal left. The new ultra right-wing of the NSW Liberals consists largely of former members of the left-leaning “Group” faction who have fallen out with the old power-brokers of the Group and have decided to switch to the Right.

When the Group controlled the NSW Liberals, they had a born-to-rule, winner-takes-all attitude. There was no room in their camp for anything resembling conservatism. In those days, there were only two factions in the NSW Liberal Party. There was the Group. And then there was the rest of the world.

That latter faction was for many years led by centre-right people. I was (and still am) proud to be associated with these small “c” conservatives. Notwithstanding my ethno-religious background and fairly “soft” views on certain issues (such as multiculturalism and Aboriginal land rights), the centre-right were happy to have me on board.

Yet when the ex-Group forces started to gain strength in the non-Group forces of the Liberal Party, they realised that they could not find a place without driving the centre-right out. From the end of the 2001 Federal Election campaign until mid-2003, this neo-Conservative element fought tooth-and-nail to remove centrists from the party.

The first domino to fall in this regard took place back in 1997. The President of Parramatta Young Liberals was getting ready to hand leadership of the branch to a talented young bunch she had recruited. Parramatta Young Liberals was one of the largest centre-right Young Liberal branch.

It was the largest branch in the Parramatta Federal Electorate Conference (FEC) of the Liberal Party. The then federal member saw the President as a threat. He and his staffer masterminded a whispering and stacking campaign. The result was the rise of Alex Hawke to the throne. Ironically, Alex was the very person the branch President wanted to take over the branch.

Hawke was rewarded for his efforts with a staffer position with the Federal Member. He then moved onto work with ex-Grouper and former feminist lawyer Senator Helen Coonan before taking up his present position with David Clarke MLC.

Hawke went onto carve out a new faction with the assistance of his employer and a large number of ex-Group Young Liberals. He felt that prior to taking over the Young Liberal Movement, he would have to destroy his internal factional enemies.

So came the 2 years of long knives. One by one, centre-right Young Liberal and Senior Branches were either shut down or stacked out. Among the victims was my own branch of Bankstown Young Liberals.

Bankstown Y/L has an interesting history. It was the first branch which Councillor Shane Mallard (of City of Sydney Council) joined before going onto become the President of the NSW Y/L Movement. It was traditionally a Group branch before being taken over by the centre-right.

Branch patron of Bankstown Y/L was the then-Group MLC Stephen Mutch. When I joined, the president was the only son of Italian parentage who was studying law. The secretary was a Hindu Malaysian-Tamil republican and the treasurer was an Indian Catholic of Goan parentage.

Bankstown Y/L became known for its large functions. First, there was a reception for the visiting member of the Bosnian Presidency, Dr Nijaz Durakovic. Also hosted by the branch have been former Pakistani cricketing legend Imran Khan and the former Mayor of Sarajevo.

On the eve of his ascension to the leadership of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, the branch hosted John Howard in the presence of waiting TV news cameras. Mr Howard was seen chatting with Asian community figures in a Chinese Restaurant across the road from the Keating stronghold of the Bankstown Sports Club.

Those were the days when the Bankstown Y/L’s saw the Labor Party as the real enemy. But when Hawke and his associates sought to re-establish the branch at the Croatian Club in 2004, the real enemy were the left-leaning liberals. And many young Croatian Australians with close links to the HVO (the Bosnian Croat militia that fought during the Bosnian war) and the old Ustashi were recruited.

The branch which had been presided by 2 Muslim Australians was now recruiting new members using anti-Muslim rhetoric. Violence was the hallmark of this episode of ethno-religious wedge-politics. Alex Hawke was seen to be at the heart of this push.

If this wedge politics is translated into mainstream politics, Australia is in for a rough ride. For that reason, it is in the broader national interest that political wedgers be identified and made an example of. That process has already started.

Words © 2005 Irfan Yusuf

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

You said "But in my opinion, conservatism has been hijacked by emotional and political refugees from the liberal left. The new ultra right-wing of the NSW Liberals consists largely of former members of the left-leaning “Group” faction who have fallen out with the old power-brokers of the Group and have decided to switch to the Right."

This is absolute nonsense.

Alex Hawke and David Clarke were never members of "the Group", and hence could never have been refugees from it.

Name the people who you say fit this description.

Augustus said...

Au contraire my cowardly friend, but Alex hawke was a member of the group. True David Clarke never was (well it depends if you mean the original Group, or the Liberal Party ripoff), but alas we have known David for many a year and know too well his faults and failings. He in his lust for power was also hijacked by these ex-Groupers. Whilst David was always strong on ideaology in the old days, he forsook such belief when it became distasteful to those new recruits who believed in nothing, ie. Alex Hawke. Yes our David has changed. Once a leading light for conservative idealogues, now just a beacon for shallow, soulless factional hacks. A great pity. Much like Irf who was once a conservative warrior but has since become a radical left wing fundamentalist. They say a week is a long time in politics, a few years is a lifetime.

Vercingetorix said...

I'm sure Augustus will agree that rather than lament the history, let's learn from it, so that we are not doomed to repeat it. One of the problems is that "The Voice of Conservatism" is confined to the few.

The best way for this to change is for the conservatives to start speaking out - even if it be in fora like this one.

We also must silence those who call themselves conservative and everyone else homosexual. What is this fascination with homosexuality that some of these "anonymous" posters have? There's more to life than spending every moment of free thought fine tuning your "gaydar". Similarly those who rave on with pointlessly racist diatribe. What conservatives need is credibility - the audience is out there waiting for the show. Unfortunately there are too many bad actors on stage.

Irfan in this latest blog of his, actually indentifies, correctly, some key features of conservatism. He tries to yolk liberalism and conservatism together, and I think he does so uncomfortably. I think he also is very "liberal" with his interpretations of History. He comes across, to the outside world, as articulate and intelligent in this latest blog. What must the general public think when they read comments like that left on the previous blog, that go on about who's queer and who's not? What credibility does that give conservatives? Does this not make Irfan look like the victim of bigots and extremists? Does this not suggest that those who criticise Irfan have a nasty agenda no matter how rational they sound? The guilt of association Augustus referred to, very wisely, in an earlier post is an important point for the sensible conservatives to keep in mind.

I don't want to be associated with the typical "angry, immature, name calling, Righter than right winger", whose political ideology is simply "lefty bashing" before he goes off to the pub to get legless for yet another night.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Doug, son (and the late father, MLA Manly) of Michael,

how do you respond to the suggestions that members of opus dei are "homosexuals who hate their own homosexuality", and muslems [sic]who join the Liberal Party are outcasts from their own religion because of their sexual orientation?"

David Clarke is not homosexual. I have noticed that one letter in the DT stated that David Clarke is not a member of Opus Dei. Irfan Yusuf is not a homosexual. Irfan acts as if he seeks to be cast-out from both the Liberal and Muslim fold. As far as I recall Irfan was always a one-man faction. If Irfan was homosexual you would think he could at least build a two-man faction. Apart from these comments please excuse my currently almost complete disinterest in Opus Dei, Catholicism, Homosexuality or Islam. If you want to believe that there are "homosexuals who hate their own homosexuality" feel free to do so if that somehow turns you on, vindicates your own prejudices or amuses you. In an uncertain world where strange things happen I would be less quick to judge or jump to conclusions that are so general and concrete. Though feel free. Undoubtedly there is a satisfaction in contemplating a theory and an even greater temptation to espouse it with certainty and intensity.

I do have a concrete conclusion on one subject relevant to this thread. My current conclusion is that Irfan is an idiot for intentionally trying to rewrite facts so as to put some slant and spin on them.
-douglasdarby@hotmail.com

Augustus said...

Vercingetorix is right. What separates us as true conservatives is our ability and more importantly our willingness to develop considered ideas and beliefs. We don't and realise that we cannot define ourselves by our opposition to our enemies but by our own point of view regardless of that of our opponents.

There is an old saying that paraphrased goes something like "never trust a man who can't tell you what he stands for, but only what he stands against". This is not to say that we should remain silent in the face of things with which we disagree, but definitely dictates that our response should be considered, rational and constructive. Let's not for get that ours is an aim to maintain and conserve a way of life.

You can bash the left with ridiculous and childish taunts all you like and all it achieves is to allow the continued myth perpetration that all right wingers are loonys and whack jobs. They win when you carry on like most of the anonymous posters on this site.

Perhaps it is indeed Irf who posts these tirades in an attempt to self perpetuate the myth that right wingers are aggressive, homophobic racists. If its not, then shame on you all for allowing him his victories by default.

Prove me wrong. Prove that you don't lack the cognitive ability to tie your own shoelaces. Prove that you stand for something rather than against everything. Prove that you are true conservatives.

Augustus said...

A major catastrophe is iminent. I am forced to agree totally with the most recent post of one Douglas Darby. This does not augur well for the natural order of the universe.

Bravo Doug.

Anonymous said...

As far as I recall Irfan was always a one-man faction. If Irfan was homosexual you would think he could at least build a two-man faction.

ROFLMAO

dexter said...

Very interesting reading.

I think all here will agree that being a 'conservative' entails going beyond upholding (or purporting to uphold) a series of beliefs which are essentially limited to abortion, euthanasia and setting the age of consent for homosexual teenagers. But this is, essentially, what this whole media exposure has been all about: Clarke, Hawke and their cohorts are all of a sudden 'extremists' for wanting to shut down heroin injecting rooms and oppose abortion. Give me a break! While these matters are certainly worthy of political consideration, for the media to decry this mob as extremists is nonsense. To add to this nonsense has been David Clarke's proclamation that he is a 'conservative', not an 'extremist', thereby sending out a dangerous signal to the community that conservatives are really only interested in these matters, whilst much more important issues, as identified by Vercingetorix, are of little interest to conservatives. This problem is compunded by the fact that John Howard, who has overseen steady annual increases in immigration and a continuation of multiculturalism (two themes close to the heart of any true conservative), has recently declared himself to be an 'Australian nationalist'. The net result is that true conservatives are marginalised to the point where their own existence, and the existence of their ideas, is automatically thought to not even exist in the eyes of the public.

To take a case in point, one of the most hypocritical aspects of the non-Group's reign of the NSW Young Liberals has been to pass a motion equalising the age of homosexual consent with the age of heterosexual consent - the only catch is that the latter is raised to 18. So while they can proudly boast that they do not support lowering the age of consent, they do so in such a cowardly manner. Removing the distinction between the heterosexual and homosexual ages of consent is essentially giving tacit approval to homosexual behaviour - something not generally accepted by conservatives.

The mention of not building a faction solely on opposition is interesting, given that it is how Hawke had initially built his empire. But it is a necessary preliminary in order to identify other like-minded people and filter through them as well, until you are able to form a sufficient grouping of people of like mind to begin determining what it is you actually all stand for.

But what happens when people of like mind find subtle ideological differences between themselves and their colleagues, such that they find themselves asking 'Is X really a conservative?' 'Am I really a conservative?' 'Is Irfan really a raving leftie or are we just focusing on aspects of his rantings which we disagree with?' Should they go their own ways? Should the beliefs of the conservative group be so broad that even Alex Hawke could identify with them? What happens then?

I can guarantee that even the genuine conservatives reading this will not be able to come to a complete agreeance on:

- multiculturalism vs monoculturalism

- multiracialism vs monoracialism (Vercingetorix, I was a little puzzled at your implicit acceptance of multiracialism within a monocultural paradigm in an earlier posting - perhaps we can talk about it on Saturday)

- abortion & euthanasia (examined from a non-religious perspective)

- protectionism vs free trade

etc etc

Can true conservatives - who share a general belief but may sometimes find themselves out of sync with the others - truly form a viable (and, more importantly, sustainable) force under such conditions?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who voted to increase the hetero age of consent from 16 to 18 should be butt-fucked with the Bible.

Conservatives should be opposed to change unless that change is a roll-back to the original Liberal Party platform ie "Australia white and free". Gradualism in a roll-back is acceptable.

Age of consent 18 is such an appalling step. In fact conservatives everywhere should have fought to keep good ole hillbilly Tasmania's female consent of 14. Errol Flynn would be rolling in his grave. Destroy a city of sodomites - fine. Destroy a town of dykes - fine. Nowhere in the bible does it say anything about age of consent 18.

I won't bother with the Koran since Mohammed was basically a serial child molester and a bisexual pervert and hence Islam has survived as a form of misogyny masquerading as a religion. Some conservatives, in a pretentiously politically correct way, refer to it as the Quran. Why bother. It’s just a really poor attempt by some Arabs doing a quick book launch of their own localised idea of a Torah or the Bible with a few useful tips on how to treat your camel. While I have the opportunity to slag-off the Koran may I remind everyone that apart from crazy branches such as Sunni and Shiite the Koran is also waved by even more wacky groups such as Wahabbi and the Druze (yes they believe in Re-incarnation). I just want to make clear that my negative view of the Islam crosses all sects and creeds and varieties.

The Geneva Convention specifically states no military training and no military service for anyone younger than 15 years old. Ipso facto it is internationally recognised that a 16 year old can fight for their country and hence they should be allowed to copulate in it as well. For some good reason God decided that a 17 year old male is at his sexual peak and capable of prodigious feats of repeated ejaculation. If the Young Liberals think a law can stand in the way of 10,000 years of intelligent-design evolutionary biology they are wrong. To do so is a blasphemy against God. Young Liberals should rot in hell for this idea of age 18 consent while seeking to deprive 16 and 17 year-olds of something that makes all the pimples, teen angst, drink driving restrictions, homework etc worthwhile. Sex followed by more sex and more sex and more sex.

Anonymous said...

"Sex followed by more sex and more sex and more sex."

Sounds like a good motto for the young liberals.

"For some good reason God decided that a 17 year old male is at his sexual peak and capable of prodigious feats of repeated ejaculation."

How many girls appreciate this? Or is this with other boys?

Anonymous said...

How is this Irf character different to Mark Latham?

Do they share the same personality disorders and psychiatric conditions?

Augustus said...

Dexter,

Good to see somebody actually put some thought into a post for the general purpose of enlightened discussion rather that generation of ire of controversy.

You are right that we should all agree that conservatism entrails much more than the handful of issues you mention, however, conservatism is indeed an ideal at the heart of which are issues such as abortion, euthanasia and age of consent. It is issues such as these that define the very nature of conservative thought and most will agree that our views on these issues stem from a moral or ideological code that is consistent across all facets of life albeit tempered with a sense of compromise and pragmatism.

It is indeed true that the media exposure has been limited to these issues and has decried Clarke and Hawke as extremists. The question is why?

Those of us that know David Clarke personally will unanimously agree that he does hold a great number of extreme views that are at the conservative end of the spectrum but often spill over that imaginary line. However, cleverly or cowardly, depending on your point of view, Clarke will never and has never espoused these beliefs outside of select company.

Alex Hawke on the other hand is a different kettle of fish. Hawke has never stood for anything and indeed has always stood against things that he misguidedly is led to believe define anti-conservatism. Hawke’s lack of understanding of what it is to be a conservative and his inability to engage on issues beyond a few ‘buzz’ topics such as abortion and euthanasia means that the media has nothing else on which to judge him. You can only label Hawke on what he actually says.

Hawke is not an extremist. In fact it was his lack of political and social conviction that alienated him from those of us who were the real right (not the centre as Irf tries to perpetuate) of the Young Liberal movement all those years ago. He believed in nothing. He only espouses those views which David Clarke tells him are what real conservatives want to hear.

As for your comments on John Howard please note- most of the conservatives who post here are actually of immigrant stock and have no issue with an increase in immigration, only its make-up, and we believe that John Howard has done more to dismantle multiculturalism in real terms than any of his predecessors. If you want to know what multiculturalists think of Howard check out www.wog.com.au. In addition, I am not sure that Australian Nationalism is diametrically opposed to conservatism anyway.

True conservatives are only marginalized by their own silence which allows pretenders such as Hawke to seize their mantle. As for the “new” non-Group’s hypocrisy, well, let’s just say there are only so many ways to veil your own support and tolerance for homosexuality. Read between the lines. Having said that, there are some good young true conservatives within the Liberal Party however, they are subjugated by Hawke and his cohorts.

This is getting a little long winded, I’ll return with part two.

Anonymous said...

Whinge, whinge....

Boo hoo....

Sob sob...

Why don't you get off your arse and elect a decent MLC for your own region.

The more right wing parliamentarians and staffers the better.

Your incessant whinging just sounds like a bunch of sour grapes, and a pathetic attempt to justify your own failure and inaction.

Anonymous said...

Irfan 'emotionally unstable': Denton
September 16, 2005 - 10:44AM


ABC host Andrew Denton says former Liberal Irfan is emotionally unstable and one of the most conflicted public figures he has ever met.

Mr Denton was speaking after the ABC won an eleventh-hour NSW Supreme Court battle for the right to screen an interview with Irfan which went to air on Thursday night.

In the Enough Rope interview, Irfan continued his venomous spray on many in Liberal ranks ahead of the release next week of his book, The Irfan Diaries.

Mr Denton said while he did not believe Irfan was mentally unfit, he did think he was emotionally unstable.

He said he was concerned that Irfan's insight into Australian politics might now be dismissed.

"I think he's a maddie, but that's a different thing (to being mad)," Mr Denton told ABC Radio.

"I think he's emotionally very, very unstable. I think he's a conflicted a man as I ever met in public life. As you could see last night ... (there) are massive contradictions.

" ... he has some very coded relevant things to say about the dysfunctionality of politics, Liberal politics in particular, and the media and politics, and I don't think they should be dismissed but I fear they will be."

PeterJackson said...

Irfan, sorry to hear about your nervous breakdown this afternoon.

Perhaps it is best that you allow no further participation on this site, while you recover.

dexter said...

Likewise, Augustus.

I find the Clarke matter interesting. He certainly has been quiet on his other pet interests which are certainly more extreme than what he has been 'exposed' for thus far, but whether it's clever or cowardly, I really don't know. Whatever the case, I think it must be agreed that, ultimately, he can only be judged on his official acts - speeches and votes in Parliament. Time will tell of his legacy; it's still early days.

I too agree with you that it is the composition of the immigration intake, rather than the concept of immigration per se, that is the matter. However, one of the problems I have with immigration (even if the mix is agreeable to true conservatives) is that immigration policy is not always based upon the best interests of the population. Directly and indirectly, big business is a key beneficiary of any increase in immigration, and one only needs to look at the Business Council of Australia's position on the matter to confirm that it has been constantly pushing for higher immigration. Why increase immigration when there is no need to? Overcrowded cities, environmental strains and degradation are just some of the real problems associated with immigration, irrespective of its composition. (Is concern for the natural environment compatible with conservative ideology?)

I believe that a serious flaw in the Australian psyche, which is also present in the US and Canada, is the belief that immigration is just a fact of life and that there is no point, or it is even counter-productive, to oppose it. This of course stems from the history of mass immigration that these countries were founded upon. Contrast this psyche with that of the continental European psyche, where immigration - only a relatively recent phenomenon - is treated in a whole different light. They won't have a bar of it, and this is reflected in the number of parties adopting an anti-immigration stance, having differing degrees of success. And it's not simply because they want to keep all those bloody Muslims out. Prior to the EU expanding to include parts of Eastern Europe, there was a huge uproar of an expected influx of workers from the East migrating to the West. There still remain concerns about immigration, both legal and illegal, of persons from non-EU European countries such as Russia, Bulgaria and Romania. The immigration issue transcends race.

I also have problems with immigration being used as a short-term solution to long-term problems, such as Howard's increase of the immigration program by 20,000 to fill a 'skills shortage'. Irrespective of who ends up migrating here as part of that increased quota, a 'skills crisis' should never have happened if Howard (and his predecessors) had invested more money in various different training programs and university funding. Policy on the run.

On the point of Australian nationalism being compatible with conservatism, I think there is a reasonable fit. What I was getting at, though, was that Howard is not, in fact, a nationalist.

Is Howard a true conservative?

PeterJackson said...

"Is Howard a true conservative?"

just another label.

"conservative" is just another "label".

Look not at how you try and label the man, but look at what he has done.

Howard defeated chKeating and SlBeazley (twice already) and that other lunatic.

What did they stand for? More labels.

Look beneath the label for the substance.

The pseudo-intellectual crap above looks like it was written by an unemployable academic or a languishing public servant.

Dex Dexter should say what he feels.






For any of you who have not yet registered, you may do so easily, using your real name, as I have done, or something obscure.

1 minute is all it takes, and then you can keep giving this "Irf character", what you think he deserves.

Or you can register in 1 minute, keep ignoring him, and talk to the rest of us.

PeterJackson said...

would this "lawyer" represent Bilal Skaf?

Or only concentrate on keeping terrorists out of gaol?

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