The left has lost the culture wars
3rd May 2011

In the following, published on the ABC The Drum Unleashed's website, I argue that the left has lost the culture wars and that Julia Gillard's recent conversion to being a cultural traditionalist cannot be believed.

The left has lost the culture war

In March 2003, when in opposition, Julia ‘radical’ Gillard gave a speech at the Sydney Institute titled ‘Winning the culture war’, in which she bemoaned the fact that Australia was, in her words, in “the grip of a neo-conservative political correctness that is out of touch with the values of the majority of the Australian people”.

According to Gillard the left had “lost the culture war” as a result of then Prime Minister Howard’s success at imposing his cultural agenda on the nation and it was time for the left to “muscle up, for the hard task of winning the culture war and creating a new vision for this nation”.

Fast-forward to recent events like the celebration of ANZAC Day and the Royal Wedding and it is clear the left has definitely lost the culture wars and that generations of Australians continue to embrace and support conservative ideals and values.

Over the last 5 to 10 years the ANZAC Day service at Gallipoli has become a rite-of-passage for thousands of young back-packers travelling throughout Europe. On the home front thousands more flock to dawn services like those at Melbourne’s Shrine and take pride in wearing medals handed down from generation to generation.

While ageing hippies and once rebellious baby-boomers in the past condemned ANZAC Day as obsolete, xenophobic and argued that patriotism is the ‘last refuge of a scoundrel’, today’s young Australians celebrate ideals such as self-sacrifice and bravery and how the ANZAC legend of mateship and loyalty defines what it is to be Australian.

Much to the chagrin of those committed to cutting Australia’s ties with the Monarchy and those fighting to radically re-define the accepted definition of marriage as the union between a man and a women, the Royal Wedding provides another example of why conservative values dominate and why the cultural-left consistently fails to win mainstream support.

Billions around the world, including millions in Australia, eagerly awaited the first sight of Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress, applauded the Royal pomp and ceremony surrounding the event and, momentarily, held their breath as Prince William struggled to place the wedding ring his wife to be’s finger.

While strident feminists like Germaine Greer have turned their backs on marriage and some of them define marriage as institutionalised rape, today’s youth see the Royal Wedding as signifying the lasting value of the romance, joy and hope made possible by the union of a man and a women under God’s law.

Westminster Abbey and the order of service, including readings from the Bible, William Blake’s hymn ‘Jerusalem’ and the homilies spoken about the unique nature of a Christian marriage, also represent a history and tradition that younger generations are searching for after an education based on nihilistic postmodernism and empty deconstructionism.

Younger generations, instead of mounting the barricades and joining in for a chorus of ‘The people united, will never be defeated’ and ‘Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, dare to struggle, dare to win’ are far happier embracing mainstream conservative values and beliefs. Forget the revolution and the 60s counter-culture, young Australians recognise the importance of reward for effort, safeguarding the nation and the need for ritual and acknowledging the past.

The ANZAC Day celebrations and the Royal Wedding illustrate the political bind that Prime Minister Gillard now finds herself in. After years of a political career, both in student politics, as an ALP apparatchik and now as leader of the ALP, selling herself as left-wing, Gillard has now realised that she, along with the ALP Government, have lost touch with the battlers and mainstream Australia.

Gillard’s pragmatic decision to form government at all costs, by making an alliance with the Greens Party after last year’s election, has only exacerbated the problem by unsettling the ALP right and cementing the belief in the wider community that extreme left-wing policies are now the order of the day.

Tony Abbott, on the other hand is a conviction politician and voters are in no doubt what he believes in, whether the Monarchy, border protection, conservative views about marriage and abortion or being fiscally responsible and defending a belief in reward for effort.

Julia ‘radical’ Gillard may have now disappeared, as the Prime Minister tries to reinvent herself as a cultural traditionalist mouthing platitudes about the importance of teaching the Bible and opposing euthanasia and gay marriage, but the reality is that she is playing catch-up politics.

There is also the danger for the ALP Government that the Australian public has always been sceptical of politicians that appear to believe in nothing except the desire to win and who change convictions based on the results of the latest opinion poll or focus group.

No wonder the ALP Government’s popularity has plummeted and Prime Minister Gillard’s political standing has flatlined. Worse still, there is now an ever increasing belief that the ALP powerbrokers got it wrong in assassinating Kevin Rudd and that the ALP brand is now tarnished beyond redemption.



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The left has lost the culture wars
3rd May 2011
In the following, published on the ABC The Drum Unleashed's website, I argue that the left has lost the culture wars and that Julia Gillard's recent conversion to being a cultural traditionalist can...

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