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The Forum > Article Comments > Conservatism, family, religion and wedges > Comments

Conservatism, family, religion and wedges : Comments

By Irfan Yusuf, published 23/9/2005

Irfan Yusuf examines the relationship between conservative politicians and religious organisations.

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The problem for many self-styled conservatives is that their ideology rests on an fundamental contradiction: the desire to deregulate economic life and regulate personal life. This is well-nigh impossible to maintain. For instance, capitalist market forces do not recognise the distinction between the supposed morality of heterosexual families and supposed immorality of homosexuality. All that matters to markets is production and consumers. This is why Telstra bosses support the Howard Government AND the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. This is also why Dolce & Gabbana targets young straight and gay men alike. And interestingly, some of the greatests gains for gays in NSW, Victoria and elsewhere came during periods of Coalition rule - much to the chagrin, I suppose, of religious conservatives such as Gordon Moyes.

There are conservatives such as George Pell who have a social justice perspective and don't want unfettered market rule. But as long as they accept money from the Howard Government for Catholic schools or community projects they'll remain compromised and less effective. They will continue to be in a position where they advocate for "the family" while at the same time support (or at least not seriously oppose) economic forces unleashed by pro-free market governments that undermine "the family".
Posted by DavidJS, Friday, 23 September 2005 10:44:14 AM
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I contend that conservatives are not that inert Irfan.

One of the features of this government and Irfan alludes to this is thier fairly aggressive social engineering policies. Here I mean changes in social welfare programs, industrial relations laws, health polcies and a move to optional voting.

These are not evolutionary steps; they are desigend to revolutionise society. IR changes are designed to directly place power back into the hands of the employer. Social welfare changes will compliment that increasing the pool of cheap vulnerable labour.

Their health policy is designed to boost participation in private medicine in keeping with the inefficient American model. Voluntary voting is designed to entrench them in government - again we will hear the freedom of choice arguement but they know full well such a strucutural change will benfit them directly - if the reverse was the case we would hear nothing of it.

Thier commitment to families is qualified - they are commmited to a return to the male/female parents and 2.2 kids model when the status quo reflects a more complex and dynamic structure; their appraoch if not revolutionary could be described as one of devolution back to the past.

Why? one explanation is that it suits them and those who profit from these moves; these policy directions have the side effect of increasing dependance of people on those with excess resources and boosting the profitability of industry elites.

I am afraid conservative politics has for along time been deeply immersed in popular prejudice - it on it and where necessary feeds it. Our current conservatives have fought very hard to rid themselves of the so called "wets" and continues to push those boundaries - look at the fate of Brogden at the hands of the zealots; there have been others.

They will embrace or distance themselves from churches as they see fit - particulary those with strong social justice platforms.

When it comes to religion the so called broad church of the Conservative parties aint as broad as it is painted.

As always I am the seekeeist of Petes
Posted by sneekeepete, Friday, 23 September 2005 11:04:00 AM
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The distinction between social and economic conservatism has already been pointed out, or perhaps more accurately social authoritarianism and economic libertarianism. Social conservativism are most assuredly not about limiting the reach of government.

There aren't many people who do support truly revolutionary change. There is a distinction between a reasonable amount of conservatism in order to reduce unexpected consequences and stubborn defense of the status quo. The former is always necessary but the latter means goes beyond stability to promote certainty above justice and progress. However, conservatism is rarely actually about the general merits of being precautionary and instead is about one's support for those values that are perceived to be traditional. I don't think--or at least hope Irfan didn't consider what a Darwinian model of social change actually means; although it isn't too far off some right-wing positions. The goal is not to protect the status quo rather it is to protect and promote "conservative" values, they evolution of values is not wanted, just the increased acceptance of theirs along with the slow change of other aspects of culture.

Family, the rule of law, basic values are all things that everyone can claim to support and protect, but except for #2 the meaning of those terms and appropriate method of attainment differ greatly. Socially liberal people have a more inclusive definition of family and a smaller set of basic values that is less formalistic. Abhorrent is a strong word. Family break ups are bad sure, but repulsive?

"If Australian conservative politics is to maintain some integrity, it must address these difficult questions and find rational answers. Otherwise, it risks descending into a quagmire of populist prejudice and tabloid pseudo-intellectualism."
You already know the answers to those questions, where they exist. You just don't want to hear them. Those of us on the left of things would like some rational answers for a lot of other right-wing positions too; but we probably won't get them.

It would be interesting to see where posters here are located on the political compass.
Posted by Deuc, Friday, 23 September 2005 4:49:09 PM
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I think sneekeepete has got it wrong about voluntary voting. If his argument were correct the conservatives would have brought it in years ago when they controlled both houses. Compulsory voting helps the party in power, and that is why the party in power has never abolished it. It helps them because no party, despite its best efforts, can avoid hurting some of its followers. These people could bever bring themselves to vote for the other party, but if voting was voluntary, they could just not vote. What we need is both voluntary voting, and "vacant" voting. This is when there is an additional candidate, "vacant" who can receive primary and preference votes, and, if elected, the seat is not filled. The chances of this being adopted is zero, as I think parliament would be mostly empty.
Posted by plerdsus, Sunday, 25 September 2005 11:11:24 PM
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Yeah voluntary voting.....
with our voting system if you secure position one on the ballot paper, you get 20% of the votes.Why? because most people dont give a rats and the choice is never that great. Whoever you vote for a politician gets in , and if voting could change anything it would be illegal. This system has given us Fred nile and others like him who dont have much to offer, and some would say this is good.
I tend to agree with bad boy bubby that we should all think god out of existence.
we should acknowledge religion as part of our history and our individual cultures.
Then we should look at the effects of religion and the types of people who abuse it.
The world dosent need the moral guidelines for the feeble that are the mainstay of religion.
Categorically religion should play no role whatsoever in decision making of any importance.
To not be prejudiced, tap em all on the head and let god sort em out. (a metaphore to cover all types of religion, not violent acts on people)
Posted by The all seeing omnipotent voice of reason, Sunday, 25 September 2005 11:31:33 PM
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omnipotent reason.....

2 points.

1/ Faith is not for the feeble, but for the honest. The problem with your view, is that it might be diametrically opposed to 'my' view and both of us might be radically different from someone elses view.
We can always opt for 'might is right' and that has legs until you see that I am much bigger and stronger than you.. or vice versa.

2/ Re Christian faith, it is the 'people' who are the problem not the faith. Example. Jesus said (John 13)

13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love, one for another"

So, it's abundantly clear, that when you see such things as Northern Ireland, it is NOT the "religion" which is the problem it is the people.

So, I ask you a question: Where do you stand before God ? Christ died for you, in your place, so you can experience forgiveness and new life. Why not turn from the self life and give your heart to the LORD of Lords and KING of kings ? Sample the 'presence of the future'.

Values are crucial for social success, and good values are vital.
Without a foundation for them, we fail on every level.

Math 7
24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
Posted by BOAZ_David, Monday, 26 September 2005 9:31:05 AM
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