There aren’t many topics that can tempt me out of self-imposed blogging retirement, but Coolhand James McConvill is one of them. I have to confess I’ve been wondering idly what happened to McConvill ever since his blog suddenly disappeared a few months ago at about the same time as he stopped teaching at La Trobe Law School (not long after mounting a (spoof?) blog-based campaign to be appointed Head of School at Deakin Law School).
Fortunately, my curiosity has been satisfied. I’ve just received a promotional spam email from James, revealing not only that he is now a corporate lawyer but has also just published a book which appears to be a compilation of his numerous thoughtful, incisive newspaper opinion pieces. Even more fortuitously, James’ spam also promotes a similar op-ed compilation of columns by his former Deakin Law School colleague Mirko Bagaric. Lawyerly solidarity compels me to share James’ email with Troppo readers, in case some of you might want to rush out and invest a few spare shekels in the Dynamic Duo’s respective words of wisdom:
In his recent address celebrating the 50th anniversary of Quadrant magazine, Prime Minister John Howard noted: “Despite a more diverse and lively intellectual environment in Australia compared with past decades, we should not underestimate the degree to which the soft-left still holds sway, even dominance, especially in Australia’s universities, by virtue of its long march through the institutions.”
This is certainly true, and I have outlined, on numerous occasions, the problems I believe this has generated both inside universities (low producitivity, low relevance in the social science faculties- and law schools in particular) and in the broader community (highlighted most recently with the role the “soft left” (or “latte left”- the term I use in my book “In the Pursuit of Truth”) played in the order of death by firing squad imposed on four of the Bali Nine by an Indonesian court.
In my book, “In the Pursuit of Truth: Reflections on Law, Life and Contemporary Affairs”, I outline, amongst other things, how the latte left pose an increasing threat to the common good and well-being of Australians. The book also includes an analysis of how in my opinion the infestation of the latte left in our universities has had a detrimental impact on the quality of these institutions, and the research coming out of these institutions.
Further information about the book is available here.
A recent article of mine, which I paste for you below, provides an overview of my opinion and the points made in the book, “In the Pursuit of Truth”. I welcome comments on the piece, and the arguments made in the book.
WAR OF THE WORLDS: Planet Civil Libertarian versus Earth
The major threat to our security comes from an increasingly loud civil libertarian movement, argues James McConvill
American journalist H. L. Mencken once said: “The average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe.”
Mencken’s quote pretty much sums up the attitude of the average Australian. The average Australian cares little about fluffy concepts such as human rights, particularly the rights of others. Give average Joe the choice between a Bill of Rights and a plasma TV, and I think that you would have to place an order for a large amount of TV’s.
In Australia, if you are wanting to win friends and influence people, you do it by appealing to their hip pocket, not to their moral conscience. Yet, if you are unfortunate enough to flick through the editorial pages of the Fairfax broadsheets (particularly Melbourne’s Age newspaper), or turn on the ABC, you would think that I’ve lost touch with reality.
Well, in fact, it is the soft lefts in the media, and their civil libertarian friends in the social sciences faculties across the country, who left reality behind long ago. The result is a growing disconnect between the well-groomed elites and the hard-working average Australian.
The majority of Australians simply have little time for the misconceived bile stemming from the remote civil libertarians. That is why the circulation numbers of the Fairfax broadsheets are laughable. Apart from the precious academic and Camberwell housewives, nobody has time for the idealist dribble pumped out on their editorial pages day after day.
On Planet Civil Libertarian, every street corner has a shiny cafe with skinny lattes flowing like water. With people having very little to do in their day, with no responsibilities, and a constant hunger for blueberry muffins, everybody mingles around crying over coffee about the plight of the poor “refugees” coming for a visit, about how “Jihad” Jack cannot slip out for a smoothie at 1 a.m. due to the dreadful control order imposed on him from the bad people in Canberra, and then after a buzz of caffeine run over to the nearby garden park to jump for joy that Victoria will soon have a Bill of Rights.
It is not expensive to get to Planet Civil Libertarian. One simply needs to cruise down to the local newsagent to pick up a copy of The Age or The Sydney Morning Herald, open up the editorial pages and get a fix. If the newsagent is too far away, turn on 774 ABC.
Back on Planet Earth, things operate a little differently. While the cafes are springing up, people don’t have pictures of Papuan warriors and bomb-buddies of Osama Bin Laden pinned up above their bed. Instead of drooling over a pretentious Bill of Rights document, most people actually get excited about such things as paying off a family home, having the ability to put their kids through good schools, and appreciate not getting bombed on their way to work.
Civil libertarians are becoming louder and more organised in trying to switch people over to their side. They have even convinced themselves that they are stepping up to protect the public from the conservative government. But the reality is they are grandstanding. They are becoming desperate. As Professor Mirko Bagaric argues in his new book “A Matter of Opinion” (more information of this title is available here), civil libertarians have now become the extremists. The terrorists wage war through hijacking planes and bombing buildings; the civil libertarians have waged a war on mainstream public opinion through hijacking leftist newspapers and bombarding the ABC.
The average Australian wants just three things: national or military security, cultural security and financial security. If they were smart, the civil libertarians would concentrate on the possible human rights implications of the Howard Government’s Work Choices legislation. This is where the average Australian might be prepared to listen because workplace relations affects their financial security.
While the civil libertarians preach from their taxpayer-funded Ivy Tower about the plight of queue-jumping asylum seekers and those who have trained with the likes of al-Qaeda, the Australian people will continue to turn a deaf ear. So they should.
Dr James McConvill is a corporate lawyer and author of “In the Pursuit of Truth: Reflections on Law, Life and Contemporary Affairs” (Sandstone Academic Press, 2006).
Some of you might be wondering how McConvill manages to hold the above opinions while also professing to have been inspired into studying law by the inclusive policies of the Keating Labor government. Others might wonder how Bagaric manages to advocate total solidarity with the US in the War Against Terror (including legalisation of torture) while simultaneously supporting North Korea’s acquisition and testing of nuclear weapons as an entirely justified defensive response to America as the “most aggressive nation on earth”. If so, it is possible you lack a complete understanding of the Dynamic Duo’s wider purposes.