Articles by Andrew Russell

Thanking our veterans; triggering the left

The world of Australian aviation is in some ways an intensely patriotic one, with Qantas serving as the National Phallus and a source of national pride. As such, the comments section on Australian Business Traveller‘s recent article about Virgin Australia joining in the government’s initiative to thank armed forces veterans for their service becomes utterly comical.

In this article, it is noted that the federal government launched an initiative encouraging corporations to give special perks to armed forces members, even if many of those perks work out merely to be a relatively meaningless expression of gratitude. Virgin Australia joined this initiative, but Qantas did not. Qantas, for its part, makes special announcements on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. However, Virgin are reconsidering joining this initiative, as there has been public backlash.

Flynn’s article remained neutral and descriptive. It asked for the audience’s opinion and invited discussion. The comments section, Read the rest


Hey, Shorten! Leave those kids alone

Bill Shorten, leader of the Australian Labor Party, has announced a plan to subsidise two years of pre-primary-school education for children. This means children as young as three years old will now be able to receive state-subsidised education.

Some may ask, “why is this bad?” After all, isn’t education the key to a successful future? Isn’t an educated workforce more productive? Doesn’t education pay for itself? Isn’t providing more education a way to ameliorate disparity and disadvantage?

The reality, however, is that not only are our lofty hopes for education unrealistic, but Shorten’s plan perpetuates a phenomenon I shall refer to as the Progressive Institutionalization of Childhood, and this phenomenon appears to be implicated in the erosion of our civic culture over the past several years. Only a few years ago, the young were resilient and rebellious and more inclined to free thinking and defiant of convention; today, our Read the rest


When “the press” are not “the press”

Among the many issues which define the modern-day culture wars is the issue of “the press.” Donald Trump bloviates repeatedly about “the press” and how terrible and biased it is, but dissatisfaction with the establishment media has been a recurrent theme even before Trump’s election.

In response to rising criticism of “the media,” many media outlets have argued that such criticism constitutes an attack on freedom of the press and an attempt to undermine the role the media plays as a guardian of liberty against tyranny. The latest entry in this genre comes from CNN, where Professor Joseph Holt of Notre Dame University makes the argument that Trump’s criticism of the press is dangerous to the civic culture of the United States, and implies that the press should be viewed as akin to military personnel who place themselves at great risk to defend freedom.

Professor Holt’s view has been Read the rest


Freedom of speech and “consequences”

The recent uproar over allegedly “misogynist” comments made by Senator Leyonhjelm in response to Senator Hanson-Young’s implications that men are collectively responsible for the rape-murder of Eurydice Dixon (and all violence perpetrated by any man against any woman) has brought out a familiar slogan: “freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences.”

Many people whom are critical of political correctness and the shaming, ostracism and character-assassination tactics of “Social Justice Warriors” frequently assert that these “SJWs” represent a threat to free speech. SJWs respond by saying that freedom of speech is protection from the government punishing you for your speech, but it isn’t protection from social consequences for your speech.

But this argument is disingenuous at best, and represents a tactical shift in the definition of free speech and freedom generally.

Negative and Positive Liberty
Negative liberty and positive liberty is a distinction rooted in the works of Isaiah Berlin. Read the rest


Bootleggers, Baptists and baggage: who benefits from plastic bag bans?

The State of Queensland recently instituted a ban on single-use plastic bags at retail outlets. Woolworths is a first mover in removing all plastic bags from its own shops. Unsurprisingly many Queenslanders are frustrated with this move, and yet few Queenslanders are surprised that the State government has done yet another stupid thing.

But why do things like this happen in the first place? Why do widely unpopular, stupid regulations seem to get through the political process that is meant to represent the populace at large?

The first thing that must be noted is that many of these regulations impose diffuse costs (a small cost on absolutely everyone) yet have concentrated benefits (a few big winners). This means that there is less incentive for individuals who have to bear the costs to lobby against such regulations, and more incentive for those few big winners to lobby for them.

But Read the rest


Status and the State: and update to the Mitchell model

Brian Patrick Mitchell’s 2006 book Eight Ways To Run The Country provided us with an interesting new model to analyze the political spectrum. Whereas the Nolan Chart uses a rather controversial social/economic split to generate a two-axis political spectrum, Mitchell arranges ideologies according to each ideology’s acceptance of coercion and each ideology’s acceptance of social hierarchy generally.

I am going to discard Mitchell’s very academic-sounding Greek labels “Kratos” and “Arche” and instead use simple terms. Mitchell asks questions of Status and questions of the State. “Status” refers to social rank and hierarchy, but does not specify what kinds of rank or hierarchy any particular ideology embraces or rejects. A pro-Status ideology is one that believes hierarchy or inequality of at least some politically-relevant types is natural and positive, whereas an anti-Status ideology is one that generally champions equality in all politically-relevant variables. Of course, ideologies often have different ideals of Read the rest


Stop justifying yourself!

“You slept with a consenting adult of the same sex? How dare you! Why?!?”

“You said something that goes against my values? How dare you! Why?!?”

“You own a gun? How dare you! Why?!?”

The three answers most commonly deployed to the previous questions usually go as follows:

“I was born with an innate biological sexual preference for members of the same sex exclusively, and therefore it is okay for me to have sex with consenting adults of the same sex.”

“I said it because I believe your values are incorrect for various reasons and I wished to critique them.”

“I own a firearm for the protection of myself against dangerous criminals or pre-emptively, in case the government becomes tyrannical.”

Even if these answers are sincere, and even if these answers are technically correct, I will argue that offering these answers is the wrong thing to do.

Why? Because an Read the rest


How ‘change the date’ activists saved Australia Day

The debate over Australia Day seems simple at first; Australia Day, the national holiday of Australia, is set on the same date as the First Fleet’s arrival in Sydney. Some argue that this isn’t particularly representative of Australia; it honors the date of the establishment of a small British colony and thus doesn’t particularly hold any relevance to Australians of non-British ancestry. More pointedly, it is argued that the date is offensive to Indigenous Australians, because it is the date at which the colonization of Australia began, and thus was the precursor to several acts of injustice against the Indigenous Australian community.

In other words, the debate around Australia Day is really just an extension of the history wars: debates over positivist versus postmodernist methodology in history, and the overall issue of what might be called post-colonial guilt or white guilt. This debate of course has an impact on the Read the rest


An open letter to Suzanne Simonot

This open letter is in response to an article by Suzanne Simonot in the Gold Coast Bulletin that covered Milo Yiannopoulos’ show on the Gold Coast.

Ms. Simonot,

I read your article regarding Milo and I wished to make a few comments.

First, I attended his show. Sure, I don’t agree with everything he says, frankly I think his position on Islam could do with a bit more nuance, his foreign policy is Israel-centric, and his idea that bisexuals aren’t real is just silly. I am also an atheist and critical of Abrahamic monotheisms, so I do not share Milo’s religion. But many (probably most) people who go to Milo’s shows have at least a few disagreements with him; he’s as much a showman as a commentator and this is part of why he is successful.

But I think your most substantial error is at the end of your article, … Read the rest