Self-appointed intelligentsia manne

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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:29 am

Robert Manne is sad:

For the left-leaning political intelligentsia, 2004 was a peculiarly dispiriting year.

This group – in which I now include myself – has continued to believe that truth in government matters. In the week following the Scrafton incident, the Coalition’s electoral stocks actually rose.

The left-leaning intelligentsia remains concerned about the fate of the thousands of mainly Iraqi and Afghan refugees on temporary visas, who live in a daily purgatory and, even more, about the suffering of the dozens of mainly Iranian asylum seekers who have been gradually going mad as a result of their indefinite incarceration for the past five to six years.

No word on how long Manne has been imprisoned. I wonder if he’s noticed that policies pursued by Bush, Blair, and Howard have permitted three million Afghan refugees to return home since 2002.

Even stranger is the question of the invasion of Iraq. It is now clear beyond argument that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction; that it posed no danger to its neighbours, let alone to the West; and that since the invasion tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed while daily life has descended into a truly Hobbesian hell. Nevertheless, despite all this, Iraq barely rated a mention in the election campaign. Compared to truly serious matters, such as the domestic economy, the broad public frankly did not give a damn about our role in the origin of the Iraq tragedy.

The “Iraq tragedy”; Manne thinks it began with Saddam’s removal.

Posted by Tim B. on 12/20/2004 at 09:17 AM
    1. If Manne is so critical of there being no mention of Iraq in the election campaign he has only his idealogical bedfellows to blame.

      The ALP steered well clear of the issue while it had the whole campaign to run with it.

      Maybe they had determined they were in for a bigger belting if they concentrated on it as the theme of the campaign.

      Posted by amortiser on 12/20 at 09:32 AM • #


    1. I just love the whole self-appointed “intelligentsia” thing. I guess modesty isn’t part of the membership criteria.

      It does raise the question, if they’re so smart, why do they keep losing elections?

      Posted by ArtVandelay on 12/20 at 10:58 AM • #


    1. No threat to his neighbors?  The Duelfer report outlines how Saddam was prepared to restart his WMD programs quickly once Blix and his fellow “inspectors” gave Saddam a clean bill of health and the sanctions were off (for what little they were worth), including the Iraqi nuclear program.  Saddam is a man so greedy for power, wealth, and glory that he started two wars to steal other peoples’ oil even without nukes.  What would he, or his psychotic spawn, have done once they got nukes?  No threat?  Gimme a break.

      These lefties seem to lack foresight, imagination, common sense, and moral principles.  Intelligence, if any, without these qualities leads them to be facilitators of evil.

      Posted by Michael Lonie on 12/20 at 11:30 AM • #


    1. Manne, of course, is an expert on the daily “Hobbesian Hell” Iraq has become, solely on the basis of biased media reporting.  When he was making similar commentary about Aboriginal settlements in Australia, it was pointed out that he’d never been near one of these either: he poured considerable scorn on any suggestion that he might need to.  After all, he’s an intellectual.

      Posted by cuckoo on 12/20 at 11:53 AM • #


    1. At least he’s talking about “tens of thousands” of dead Iraqis – as opposed to the by now obligatory (at least for leftist commentators) “more than 100 thousand”.

      Now, that’s some considerable progress. I reckon after two more terms of conservative government in this country, Manne and his mates might even get acquinted with reality eventually.

      Posted by JPB on 12/20 at 12:09 PM • #


    1. In his polemic Manne also raised Mike Scrafton’s drunken phone calls to the PM. Manne said the PM’s way of dealing with Scrafton’s exposure of the PM’s “mendacity” was simply to ignore it.

      The Scrafton kerfuffle is shaping up as Australia’s plastic turkey.  No matter often it is exposed as a fake and a put-up job someone comes along stating in the face of the clear evidence to the contrary that’s it’s all true – and Mr Howard is a liar.

      Fortunately only fellow-travellers take Manne seriously. He is a laughable caracature of a left-wing intellectual. ALways good for a giggle.

      Posted by walterplinge on 12/20 at 12:43 PM • #


    1. ArtVanDelay � Shhh.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 12/20 at 01:11 PM • #


    1. Michael

      he started two wars to steal other peoples’ oil even without nukes. What would he, or his psychotic spawn, have done once they got nukes?

      Fortunately, we will never know.


      foresight, imagination, common sense, and moral principles. Intelligence, if any, without these qualities leads them to be facilitators of evil.

      Well put.

      Posted by Thomas on 12/20 at 01:34 PM • #


    1. Mao had the right idea with intellectuals: send them out to work amongst the people for a few years, to experience real life.

      We’ll send Manne to the Top End – Arnhem Land- to work for a couple of years in the heat and flies, living with and helping the local people develop sanitation facilities to eradicate scabies, dysentery and renal failure, working with the medical staff who go there voluntarily. That way he’ll meet plenty of Aborigines. Then, a year in Darfur, living with the refugees; followed by some time in Kurdish refugee camps in Iran. By that time, he should have lost a lot more weight than Andrew Bartlett. When he returns, people might respect his opinions a bit more.

      Posted by mr magoo on 12/20 at 01:48 PM • #


    1. Oh woe oh woe! What a diobolically clever little bastard that Howard must be,having managed to deliver to middle Australia “unprecedented levels of prosperity” during the past decade.Clearly the “intelligent”Manne wouldn’t be at all sad if he had failed to boost the economy but instead had left it where he found it,still mired in the “recession we had to have”.

      Posted by Lew on 12/20 at 02:01 PM • #


    1. What can’t be countenanced is that left of centre parties are losing support from former supporters and becoming more and more the exclusive preserve of inner city elites – what Paddy McGuiness calls the bougeoise left. Many BLs have positions of influence but their interests tend to focus only on minority groups who share their outlook. Without mainstream appeal they can never win government. The Labor Party and its followers have become like the Greens, a self-reinforcing and self-deluding closed circle.  I knew Howard would do well when journalists were assuring us (themselves?) that the election would be close. How could they ever have believed that most Australians would walk into a voting booth and vote for something like Mark Latham?  The man�s a walking shambles, a bully and knuckle merchant; completely untried and inexperienced.  Labor�s loony left and the Greens soon had him selling out anyway.

      Labor can’t go back to the defunct unions whose jobbing machine bosses keep saddling constituencies with lame ducks nor can they rely on the BLs whose snobbery and outr� concerns (rather like rich dowagers and their pet charities) have no resonance with increasing numbers of people.  Their hearts throb with COMPASSION for foreigners on boats and the whales beneath but the Kaths and Kims, their fellow citizens, are pure contagion. (Nothing like street closures and speed bumps to keep the riff raff out.) Christopher Hitchens suggested that he would have liked Kerry to win if only to rescue the Left from dilettantism and help them confront Islamism.  But the BLs and �old� Europe are pretty comfortable as it is and seem content with the less challenging role of drama critic while others occupy the stage of world history and die to protect them.

      Posted by Inurbanus on 12/20 at 02:01 PM • #


    1. Stupid fucker.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 12/20 at 02:36 PM • #


    1. i dunno if he’s stupid – he’s definitely a fucker tho.

      Posted by Deo Vindice on 12/20 at 04:14 PM • #


    1. Ummm…. so where’s all the stolen oil?

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 12/20 at 05:13 PM • #


    1. It is now clear beyond argument that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction

      So wot about Saddam? He was a WMD.

      Posted by rog on 12/20 at 06:52 PM • #


    1. Whatever it is, it is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

      Have the intelligensia noticed how it became clear that Saddam had no WMD’s?

      It’s called the Mother of all Inspections.

      Not that I agree with his assessment, because it’s WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

      Posted by J. Peden on 12/20 at 07:55 PM • #


    1. The only comment from the ALP about Iraq was some mumbled inanity from Latham about “bringing the troops home by Christmas”.

      The response to this idiotic statement was, of course, a landslide win to the Liberals.

      Way to go, Iron Mark!

      Posted by Pedro the Ignorant on 12/20 at 08:10 PM • #


    1. How can anyone boast of being part of the “Left intelligensia” that have been on the side of Death ever since the Bolshevick Revolution? (Since Robespierre and the French Revolution, for that matter).

      Posted by Kevin Dunn on 12/20 at 08:34 PM • #


    1. Manne and his fellow travellers are symptomatic of what John Button, former ALP senator, wrote about when he pointed out that just under half of the ALPs Victorian membership live in 8 inner-city seats – and my guess would be that a few of those would be Coalition seats. Kim Beazley snr saw this happening decades ago when he said the old Labour Party used to attract the cream of the working class, but the modern Labor Party attracted the dregs of the middle class.

      Posted by steve68 on 12/20 at 10:09 PM • #


    1. Manne really typefies the disastrous failure of the left (a once-noble beast in that it used to be implacably opposed to real fascism) to adapt to the realities of the post-Cold War world.

      This is bizarre, because the post-Cold War world closely resembles the 19th century. We have been here before in many ways. We are finding the same solutions to many of the same problems.

      ironically, it is what we would now call the left, or progressives, who were at the forefront of solving that centuries major problems, like international slavery.

      How far they have fallen into delusion and a firm intent to avoid facing reality.

      That is what distinguishes conservatives, I suppose, a willingness to deal with reailty, rather than trying to wish it away.


      Posted by MarkL on 12/20 at 11:26 PM • #


    1. Robert Manne has been a broken record on this subject – especially the message the ALP should ditch the intelligentsia (and that he’s part of the said intelligentsia). (Mind you, many columnists, both left and right wing, seem to be on recycle mode now)

      He implied in this article that foreign policy, if anything, is a negative for the Coalition. How about he look at polling data – say what percentage of the polling public prefer the party on issue X?

      Posted by Andjam on 12/20 at 11:30 PM • #


    1. MarkL, I’ve heard some evidence that the early economists (being champions of individual liberty etc) were quite influential in the debate against slavery in England in particular. One researcher stated that it may be at least part of the reason behind economics being tagged as the ‘dismal science’.

      (I’m being a tad lazy and am yet to verify this but it would be nice if it were true)

      Posted by ArtVandelay on 12/21 at 02:02 PM • #


    1. Perhaps the “left leaning political intelligentsia” should find a wall to lean against, before they lose their balance, and fall on their ass.

      Posted by rinardman on 12/21 at 03:04 PM • #


    1. ArtVandelay, you are quite right. The research was done by economic historian William Coleman, book called “ Economics and its Enemies: Two Centuries of Anti-Economics” (Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 200). A brilliant and constantly informative but expensive work.

      Posted by Kevin Dunn on 12/22 at 01:43 AM • #


  1. Thanks very much for that Kevin, I’ll see if I can dig it up.

    Posted by ArtVandelay on 12/22 at 02:16 PM • #