On Saturday, before the polls closed, I correctly predicted the Victorian election result.
My forecast wasn’t genius.
I’ve just been around politics a long, long time and see the perennial rules of the game.
Knowing the result is the easy part.
Discerning ‘why’, well, that’s another level of understanding again.
TV, newspaper and social media pundits are already misconstruing the ‘why’. Even the Victorian Liberal Deputy Leader, David Southwick MP, continues to misunderstand. “Labor dirty tricks”, he blurted wide-eyed on Sky Saturday night.
It was like looking into the eyes of a shocked and hapless kangaroo being ploughed dead in a political road-kill.
I’m going to say it until I’m blue in the face.
Parties lose elections when they have no philosophical framework. From the philosophy come the policies. The policies then improve people’s lives.
To put it another way, philosophy is the rationale. Policies are practical applications of that rationale.
The Liberal Party of Australia has lost its philosophical bearings. It is adrift in the political sea, allowing itself to be washed aimlessly by the currents and tides of its enemies. It’s tried to mollify the Extinction Rebellion. It’s preferenced the socialist Greens #2 on how-to-votes. It’s participated in wokery. It’s succumbed to populist fiscal ill-discipline. It’s appealed to proto-fascist Australia One.
Who is the Liberal Party anymore?
So, let’s do a short, sharp review of basic philosophy regularly. We’ll call it Philosophy Monday and we’ll know why it’s vital to have a weekly dose.
We can start with my favourite guy, John Stuart Mill.
In the wake of Saturday’s disastrous result when it seems Victorians are turning their back on freedom, here’s what JSM (personal aside: he only allows friends to call him JSM *smile*) says in his famous hundred-page essay, On Liberty:
Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities.
Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression.
Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by OTHER MEANS than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them.
There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.
But though this proposition is not likely to be contested in general terms, the practical question, where to place the limit – how to make the fitting adjustment between individual independence and social control – is a subject on which nearly everything remains to be done.
As a movement of good people, we need to define the limit and enforce it.
First, we need to be crystal clear on our philosophical base.
It’s liberalism. You were born and live in liberal democracy. You’re a liberal, even if you don’t release it. Declare it. Proclaim it with muscular vigour. You’re a modern-day Whig, free-spirited independent or sleeper agent amidst Tories who can be convinced. Own your philosophy, now in it’s fourth century of application. It transformed the world. And if, like me, you’re a Christian too, rejoice! Our 2,022 year old Faith best flourishes in the freedom liberalism provides. They are a hand-in-glove as far as I’m concerned. Our free will is God’s gift to us. What we do with it is our gift to God.
Don’t retreat coddled and forlorn into that thumb-sucking emotional safe-space called ‘conservatism’. Do you honestly want to ‘conserve’ the vast apparatus of government long now installed by Labor, Liberal, National and Greens, marshalled to impinge your life, take your hard-earned money and close your churches? It needs an overhaul, a stripping back.
You need to be radical now, a buster of the collectivist status-quo, an agent provocateur:
a forceful Thatcher, an illuminated Wilberforce.
No more tired Tories endlessly pessimistic about today and the future. We are in the fight of our lives and we need change!
Second, we need to work hard now on bold, innovative policies which give life to our philosophy. Where there is a friendly MP or two, we need to work together to organise.
Third, since we liberals control not one parliament currently, we must use “other means than civil penalties”. We need social tactics of our own to move the cultural needle.
To which “other means”, to what social tactics is Mill hinting?
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See. The philosophers show the way.
Philosophy Monday. Done!
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An entrepreneur who has employed 1,470+ people, Kenelm was admitted to the BRW Fast 100 three times with businesses in Australia, NZ, Singapore and New York, where he lived for 12 years. Kenelm’s investment firm performs mid-market leveraged roll-ups. He was a regular columnist for the Australian Financial Review. Kenelm is the Founder of Liberty Itch.