Edited by Dr Kevin Donnelly
Wilkinson Publishing, Melbourne
Paperback: 182 pages
Reviewed by Peter Kelleher
They are sawing away at the ladder
A very famous book (The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, for those born yesterday) reassured nervous readers, in an uncanny anticipation of snowflake culture, with this advice on the back cover, “Don’t Panic”. Perhaps the book under consideration here should offer similar guidance, though, in this case, the back cover might read “Panic”.
Cancel Culture is a series of 11 essays on the different parts of social (and private) life into which a culture of simply silencing any opposition has made inroads: the humanities and even the sciences (the “settled science” of climate change, for instance) at the universities, the family from all directions, the school system, the law, free speech, Aboriginal relations.
The 11 contributors include the editor, Kevin Donnelly, geologist and climate-alarmism resistor Ian Plimer, academic and commentator Anthony Dillon, education commentator Jennifer Oriel, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, sociologist Gary N. Marks, educationalist Fiona Mueller and the NCC’s own Patrick J. Byrne. Peta Credlin provides an orienting Foreword.
The aim is to describe and provide a countermovement to the left’s march through our institutions and through them into our lives and homes. As Credlin writes in the Foreword: “Not before time, this book brings an antidote to the politics of division and despair.”
A lot of cleaning and swabbing of the wound has needed to take place before any realistic “antidotes” can be administered and few of the contributors manage to get only so far as describing the nature of the wound.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
This is hardly surprising: the wound is likely a civilisational wound unto death; and it is being (not “has been”) self-administered. Gary N. Marks, then, does a fine job of pointing out and describing the development of the major lines of ideological threats that have converged to give us this present moment of crisis.
So he follows the convergence of a neo-Marxism that would be unrecognisable to an orthodox Marxist of the 1970s; with the weird outgrowth from literary studies that transmogrified into Critical Theory and has infected every discipline in the humanities; with Postmodernism, the one-upmanship of the next generation of critical theorists.
It would be rather churlish and beyond the limits of the book then to require of Marks that he then go on to give a shopping list of salutary remedies.
Jennifer Oriel reminds us of an earlier instance of cancelling: that of historian Geoffrey Blainey in 1984 for daring to query the wisdom of an accelerated and politicised multiculturalism (p53). An action against an academic that provoked indignation back then barely has time to be registered today before the next instance comes along.
And the cancelling is not confined to academics, although Peter Ridd comes to mind: Bettina Arndt, Israel Folau, Eddie McGuire, even contributor to this volume Patrick Byrne, who was cancelled in 2018 from speaking at the University of WA for the launch of his book on transgenderism, Transgender: One Shade of Grey.
Although not every essay here fulfils Peta Credlin’s hope for solutions, some do. David Daintree, Anthony Dillon and Patrick Byrne, no doubt assisted by the strict delimitation of their topics, make suggestions as to what must be done.
Daintree’s very readable lament over the demise of teaching of history is balanced by his sober assessment of what the remedy is; and the remedy is not a political program. It lies in the emergence of institutions such as Campion College and the Ramsay Centre; institutions that come into being through the desire of everyday people for the objective that the institution will exist for. He wisely prefaces these remarks with the observation that “the remedy is very easily prescribed but will only work for people who are predisposed to take it” (p93).
In his aptly titled essay, “Divided We Fall”, Anthony Dillon takes on the knotty problem of Aboriginal disadvantage and rightly and delicately reminds us that it is the concern of every Australian that Aboriginal people be brought out of the misery, violence and poverty that afflict them. He points out that the Aboriginal “culture warriors” and their non-Aboriginal fellow travellers widen and exploit the divisions between Aborigines and the rest of society to the detriment of all but especially of the Aborigines, whose plight is lost to view in the smoke the activists blow in everyone’s eyes (p122).
This is a must-read essay.
Patrick Byrne returns to the issue of the transgender agenda, on which he has written two books and several articles for News Weekly, and sums up with admirable clarity that we have on our hands a veritable clash of mutually exclusive worldviews. He warns that the laws are already in place – and more are being devised – to outlaw the view that we all have held until five minutes ago that biological men are men and biological women are women.
He makes it clear that the clash is not over whether a grown man may wear makeup and heels (hardly our business), but over whether it is just to prohibit everyone else from believing in good faith that that might not be such a good thing. The law is locked and loaded: and they have your children in their sights.
While it is never a good time to panic, now is as good a time as will come in our lifetimes to “wake up!” if we don’t want to be “woke up”.