Passing Bull 205 – The usual suspects


Volume 4 is now out and available on Amazon Kindle.  Preparing it for publication led me to write the following in the Introduction.

Volume IV contains the next fifty posts.  I am saddened by the repetition in this volume.  Try a field search on the usual suspects.  So I dedicate this volume to the folks at the IPA and Murdoch press whose outstanding contributions to bullshit led to the following comments set out in a post contained in this book.

But then we are told that if the P M backtracks, he will be eviscerated by the conservatives in his own party.  This is a shocking abuse or misuse of the term ‘conservative’.  As best as I can see, the people referred to are nothing like ‘conservatives’.  They look to have the following views.

They are attracted to factions, plots, conspiracies and coups in the same way that little boys like playing with matches.  They love rubbishing the elites of the political class, even though they occupy the commanding heights of that class.  They think that patriotism is a decent and useful term.  They even have a closet hankering after Donald Trump’s Operation Faithful Patriot, because they neither like nor trust migrants, which can lead to problems in a migrant nation.  They get misty-eyed about civilisation, but then they get coy about how the epithet Western might qualify the noun.  They have never held down a real job.  They would not know what a working man looks like.  They believe that people without a tertiary degree, even those as useless as theirs, are bloody lucky to have the vote, and that if there is such a thing as a dinkum Aussie, he would be the definitive pain in the bum.  They consort with shock jocks and the Murdoch press.  If you took away their clichés and labels, they would be stark naked.  They hold that it is not right to criticise Donald Trump.  They maintain that Israel and its current PM can do no wrong.  They think that supporters of Palestinians are Green/Left dupes of the Love Media who are soft on border security and sovereignty to boot.  They practise a curious form of faith that allows them to hold that running a concentration camp for children in the Pacific conforms with the Sermon on the Mount.  They believe that most experts are frauds (unless they are involved in saving their life or liberty).  Science is bullshit and worries about the climate are alarmist (it is bad taste to mention California Burning so near the event – that’s like talking about the dead after another massacre).  Thoughts and prayers can cure most ills since by and large God is all that He is cracked up to be – even if you don’t take His word too seriously too close to home.  They have bizarre dreams about liberty or freedom that would have led to a fit of the giggles in Edmund Burke or Disraeli.  They are relieved that the gorgeously photogenic imports into the House of Windsor comfy rug will save these colonies from the delusional insecurity of Home Rule or independence.  They believe – devoutly – that cadres of the IPA are well educated and rational philosophers and economists who have election-winning ideas for the true believers.  And while it is both polite and meaningful for them to label others as progressives, it is neither polite nor meaningful for them to be labelled as regressive, reactionary or retrograde.

In short, this motley is a viscerally uncomely mix of the clown, the dunce, and the jerk.  They are a dream come true for Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.  If you want an example, look out for the unsullied brashness of that boyish senator who looks like his mum dresses him and then combs his hair.  Or catch a glint of that Chesty Bond smile of Tim Wilson, M P.  And then salute the flag and hum a few bars from the Goons’ classic hit ‘I’m walking backwards for Christmas – across the Irish Sea.’  I wonder if they have their own version of a Masonic hand-shake?  And just what condition was God in when he set up this Comédie Humaine?

The saddest part about these falsely named ‘conservatives’ is that they are prone to endorse what is called populism, which is the antithesis of conservatism, and while they bemoan the death of faith in politics and liberal democracy, they are among the principal instruments of that death.

With all best wishes

Geoffrey Gibson

Malmsbury, Victoria,

21 July 2019.


Groupthink is a remarkable is a remarkable phenomenon.  I guess it is all about wanting to be loved, wanting to conform with those around us in order to be socially acceptable.

Chris Kenny, The Australian, 22 July, 2019.

Electoral idiocy of this kind is all too common these days in the eyes of the political class….The greatest agreement over Brexit is found among the intelligentsia.  The experts are in agreement, as experts so often are, since they are frequently considered to be experts because they uphold the establishment opinion.

Nick Cater, The Australian, 22 July, 2019.

Unless two of the most conformist members of the political class, who hate experts for obvious reasons, heed the warning of Woody Allen, they will go blind.  They are astoundingly predictable.
From the Financial Times, 15 July, 2019.

The fundamental organising principle of populism is a divide between the people and the elite. The ‘commonality of people’ have an innate sense of what is right, which helps to explain ‘why so much populist politics will short-circuit discussion or examination: because the people’s preferences are innate. And because they are innate, they are just and cannot be argued with.’

The second important component, Fieschi says, is betrayal by an elite, typically one that has a greater sense of allegiance to its own members than to the people or the nation.

The third is authenticity, the leitmotif of Fieschi’s book.  By authenticity she does not mean an unvarnished image or consistent beliefs — the magic dust for all modern politicians — but a politics rooted in instinct rather than reason, ‘the politics of the gut’. It allows the populist to dismiss opponents as hypocrites and provides licence to speak one’s mind without limits, to be direct to the point of shamelessness. 

Fieschi combines conceptual analysis with real examples to chart the historic evolution of populism. Mr Le Pen was a prototype who began to write the populist manual with his use of the ‘calculated provocation’. ‘Lying as a demonstration of one’s irrepressibly authentic nature: what could be more sincere than that?’ Fieschi asks.

Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, she writes, pioneered ‘entrepreneurial’ but non-ideological populism. Anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo broke ground with his blog and web-based ‘democracy’. Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s hard right League, is always available, always accessible, seemingly unstoppable. 

The section on Brexit Britain is less original. Luckily Fieschi moves swiftly on to a much harder question: why are today’s voters so susceptible to populist charms? Her thesis is that digital technology has made us receptive to populism by exalting immediacy, simplicity and transparency. Without complexity, delay and frustration we do not pause for reflection.

5 thoughts on “Passing Bull 205 – The usual suspects

  1. Peter

    I know you think I am fixated on the Murdoch people. That’s because I am. Others complain too.
    But the FT book review perfectly catches my views.
    I now propose to give my full attention to the Australian Christian Lobby.



  2. I don’t always agree with you Geoff.
    But I can’t resist your every word.
    ACL now?
    God help us.

    • Peter

      I am getting a lot out of the FT. Real value. That book review about ‘populism’ was very instructive.
      And a good story in the Oz today – although it has been told elsewhere. Some far-sighted sports fan at Great Western brought down two blackfellas from the Tiwi Islands. They gave a dividend last weekend – G W Lions v Ararat Eagles – 79.41 to 1.0. The goal umpires retired hurt with RSI.


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