Book Review: the Twilight of the Elites, by David Flint
by Professor David Flint
During the past forty years especially elite groups in Australia have acquired a disproportionate influence. These elite groups have a privilege as against the generality of the population: the A.B.C. is an influential purveyor of opinions, but without responsibility; academics and teachers have tenured independence; journalists form an influential coterie; groups of businessmen are concerned more about their personal stock-options and the profits of their companies than about other considerations; the social welfare lobby is protected by increasing government subsidies; and so on.
These elite groups have, as Professor Flint observes, attempted to dictate political correctness, by supporting illegal immigrants, Aboriginal "reconciliation" and "treaties", homosexual privileges, abortion, a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy and a diminution of rights of expression and association.
Professor Flint is of the view that these unrepresentative elites are now suffering a decline in their influence. He points particularly to the recent referendum on the republic, a core issue with elite groups. The adoption of a republic was pressed by journalists, academics, public servants, businessmen and proclaimed leaders of opinion. But the republic referendum was lost in every State.
Professor Flint also refers to the success of the Howard government's firm position in regard to illegal immigrants. Mr. John Howard has, in accordance with the wishes of the great majority of ordinary Australians, adopted a strict approach by excluding as far as possible alleged refugees (who are almost always merely those seeking greater comfort and affluence) from Australia. For this he and Mr. Philip Ruddock have endured concentrated personal abuse. But their policies have nonetheless succeeded. The flow of illegal immigrants has been largely stemmed.
Professor Flint raises the important question: what motivates these elites to advocate policies that are almost invariably calculated to disadvantage ordinary Australians? He points out that the elites themselves are insulated, or at least believe this to be the case. They believe themselves to be protected against the adverse effects of the policies that they adopt. They are therefore able to luxuriate in feelings of self-righteousness and superiority. As Professor Flint points out, these elites (who often have the doubtful advantage of tertiary education in politicised faculties) barely conceal a contempt for the views of ordinary Australians.
The Twilight of the Elites contains a trenchant foreword by Mr. Tony Abbott, who rightly points out that the elites embody a "left-liberal intellectual hegemony". Mr. Abbott refers with approval to Professor Flint's discussion of abortion, and notes that "Flint wonders how the morality of detention centres can seem so much more pressing than the morality of 100,000 abortions a year. Why is a women's right to choose whether to give birth axiomatic but not a country's right to choose its immigrants?"
The Twilight of the Elites may be strongly recommended. It is a book to be read with profit but also a book to be given to one's children, to prevent them from being misinformed by the regrettably poor quality material that emanates from the media. A considerable debt is owed to Professor Flint for his research and generosity in producing this volume.
R. M. Pearce
National Observer No. 59 - Summer 2004