Generally when you hear tripe in Australian political discourse being pushed by a self-styled think-tank, you roll your eyes and just know it has to be from the Australia Institute (a euphemism for what should more accurately be called “Clive Hamilton’s Soapbox for Deranged Ramblings”).
His recent column on Kevin Rudd’s proposed internet censorship plan however is worth noting for the reason that his concluding sentence encapsulates everything the left fear about the internet, and the real rational behind their push to censor it.
So, let us ignore the just ludicrously bad first half the the article (Hypothetical boy looks for porn. Hypothetical boy finds porn. Shock! Horror!), and the factual errors about the opposition to the clean feed campaign (all just standard Hamilton drivel) and focus on the really telling line:
” The internet does not belong to the net libertarians, who seem to believe they inhabit a cyber-nation that is beyond normal forms of social regulation. The net belongs to all of us and, like other forms of communication, is subject to our collective decisions”
This says it all. This really says it all.
The internet is currently outside the purview of the State. It epitomizes individual freedom and free exchange of ideas. It challenges traditional conceptions of power. By its very nature it is a dialogue, and one which rejects the top-down models of authority so many on the left wish to impose on society. Whilst not quite a model for a utopian libertarian future, its transformative power to empower individuals at the expense of the State is doubtless. And this scares the left shitless.
I’m not talking by the way about your happy-go-lucky free-love hippy green left. Most of them are just confused libertarians. What I am referring to is the hardcore ideological movement encompassing a large part of the left-wing political elite who genuinely still believe that at top-down government controlled model of government is the best way forward. One which totally rejects individualism, and embraces the coercive power of the state. The unreconstructed Marxist of yesteryear under a different name. Clive Hamilton is the epitome of this.
Earlier in the article Clive says:
“Fortunately, we do not live in the type of society favoured by organisations like Electronic Frontiers Australia. We live in a democracy where citizens ask their governments to impose restrictions on certain types of content that are regarded as harmful to individuals or to the community more broadly”
It would almost be comical to hear someone say “Oh please Mr. Big Government, save us from scary and harmful knowledge! We don’t know what’s good for us! We need you because you’re oh so-knowledgable and wise and good” in 2008. Comical, that is, if Clive wasn’t deadly serious.
It is unfortunate that there still exists a large group of people who have so little faith in Australians that they believe that our thoughts and actions must be dictated by on-high. It is sickening, but fortunately, it is the way of the past.
Freedom is on the march, and shall not be thrwarted despite the best efforts of Clive Hamilton and his repulsive ilk. Those who cling to outdated ideologies and oppose it shall be consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong.
Update: Somebody Think of the Children provides this list of “You know your argument for filtering falls flat on its face when...”
Update 2: Best Twitter responses so far – “@NewtonMark I can’t help thinking that Clive’s article was semi-autobiographical”, “ @danupoyner Dudes, do you think maybe Clive Hamilton was making a point about standards in his piece by not having any?” and “@andrewkemp86 One day The Australia Insitute will advocate the banning of humans having sex. It will solve all of Clive’s problems.”