Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Striking a balance?

Didn't think much of Howard's address to Quadrant, but it has raised that old question of 'the left' and communism, the 'black armband' view of Australian intellectual history. Who is this 'left': Bob Brown, Doc Evatt, Lance Sharkey? I agree you can't on one level be too critical of people who apologised for and denied the crimes of communism, even if at the same time you have to understand why communism gained support. But let's think about authoritarian regimes overall, there were the communist states but there were many on the right: South Africa, Suharto's Indonesia, Pincohet's Chile etc., and there is also the question of human rights violations in Australia. My guess would be that if you compared Quadrant and Arena from 1960 to 1990 you would find the following:
1. criticism of the human rights records of Communist regimes disproportionately in Quadrant
2. Criticism of the human rights record of authoritarian right-wing regimes disproportionately in Arena
So a pattern of both sides attacking the other, and perhaps a draw on points, but I would predict that:
3. Quadrant would contain many defences and apologias for authoritarian right-wing regimes
4. Arena would largely ignore Communist regimes altogether, perhaps there were some Maoist apologias worthy of condemnation, although its Communist Party antecedents probably largely insulated it against Maoism
5. Arena would have far more coverage of human rights violations in Australia.
If we added all these up I suspect Arena would come out a long way ahead in the moral scales.
A moment's Google search brings up this in Quadrant:
More was done in the quarter-century of Indonesian rule to improve the health and education of the Timorese than ever had been done in the years of Portuguese rule. Much of this was destroyed in the name of independence…by aliens presumably


At 9:59 PM, Blogger Jim Belshaw said...

Welcome back Geoff. I was beginning to worry thst you had given up blogging.


At 6:12 PM, Blogger Geoff Robinson said...

So did I, trying to write a Unit on tourism


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