‘RENEWAL, not revolution.’ It quite literally could have been taken from Emeritus Pope Benedict’s book on why we should be wary of false cultural ruptures in history and those who promote them. Ratzinger was thinking of Vatican II. Anthony Albanese is thinking of coronavirus. As a slogan, it’s clever. The Catholic Church’s big mid-1960s ‘renewal,’ however, comes with an apposite cautionary tale: what started as a reno ended with a permanent revolution of radicalism, experimentation and division. Australians sense their country has been changed and may never be the same again. What concerns voters is not lost dignity or rights withdrawn from a minority but that ‘measures’ taken to ‘combat’ covid, unless dismantled, will ruin their own enjoyment of life.
They want a compliance dividend and – inflation or weak economic growth notwithstanding – that isn’t much to ask. The problem, however, is that compliance in the face of tyranny so debased their own sovereignty that, whether they realise it or not, they’re on the liberty dole. This much freedom is enough to survive on, says the state, but no more. When Mr Albanese talks of renewal, he means of government, not democracy. He needs to distance himself from extremists like Daniel Andrews and what they have done over the past two years if he ever wants to be taken seriously as an agent of Benedictine gentility. His theme has gone awry before. In 1918, the editor of Il Popolo d’Italia – Benito Mussolini – summarised his own program as “renewal, not revolution.”
Morrison Would Be Worse
Nobody has explained the case for sending the Liberals to rehab for three, six or more years better than Gerard Henderson, albeit inadvertently. Late last month, the executive director of the Sydney Institute wrote a column for The Australian in which he posited an argument from history for the Liberal Party’s base to eschew minor parties (including Voice Of astroturfers) and stay loyal to the cause. The cause is re-electing an LNP government because, as usual, Labor Would Be Worse. He referred the rebellion-curious to the 1943 election where, assailed by “no fewer than six non-Labor parties competing against Labor and, on occasions, each other,” Arthur Fadden – the successor to ousted UAP leader Robert Menzies – went down to John Curtin in one of the biggest conservative losses in Australian history. Henderson notes it was this division in non-Labor ranks that inspired Menzies to found the Liberal Party which he led to a famous victory in 1949. Thus began a 23-year party domination of federal governance.
The moral of the story is supposed to be unity at all costs but it could also be that the Liberal Party, like the old UAP, has run its race historically and needs to evolve into something else. Henderson the Liberal loyalist should have given his thesis more thought: if the atomisation of the early 1940s was necessary to engineer something better, maybe today’s Hansons and Kellys are the heralds of a Menzian reformation. When I heard what another Liberal loyalist, Michael Kroger, said to Liberals frustrated with the Morrison government via Catherine McGregor last Friday, the case for creative destruction became compelling. “Well, the message is: stop being so selfish,” he spat. “Stop being so unrealistic. Stop being so indulgent that you think you can get everything from a government.” (Audio: from 18.27).
People who formerly voted Liberal, if only because L.W.B.W., do not want “everything.” They want a prime minister who doesn’t lie about “voluntary” vaccinations he knows damned well are forced. They want a prime minister who doesn’t play Penn & Teller with the Attorney-General on religious liberty. Oh yes, they wanted the media to pick the Jack of Spades (the Folau clause) rather than the Queen of Clubs (the forgotten conscience clause that would have prevented Annastacia Palaszczuk from coercing Catholic hospitals to host and book homicides). They did not vote for Net Zero. They have no interest in ‘climate change’ or electric ‘cars.’
Kroger and Henderson believe conservatives will come home to the mama of Liberal management of the economy and forget things like government thuggery, legalised murder and genuflecting to Gaia. Two tips for these gentlemen (both of whom I like and respect): first, anti-Liberal Liberals – let’s call them 49-ers – are no longer ‘conservatives’ (a brand name that Ming pointedly avoided). Second, on tense: Labor would be worse? At a state level, they have been worse than anything seen in this country’s history and Scott Morrison backed them every goosestep of the way.
You want realistic, Kroges? Hold my hose.