Jun 4, 2018

Ramsay Centre collapses under the weight of Western stupidity

Tony Abbott's support may not have killed the ANU's plans to host the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, but he and his goon-squad-turned-cheer-squad-on-the-right certainly didn't help.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Tony Abbott

Last Friday, the email went pinging around the country, to wit that sadly the Australian National University would not now be hosting the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, as the criteria for sponsorship had conditions the university could not agree with. "The media inquiries number is staffed out-of-hours," Dean Rae "Toto" Frances added.

We bet it is. The Ramsay was knocked on the head after Tony Abbott snatched defeat from the gut of victory with a Quadrant online article a few days earlier, stating that the Ramsay must not only study Western civilisation but be "for" it. With that basic travesty of free thought coming from the centre’s self-proclaimed progenitor, the thing was dead in the water. A concerted campaign against it by the NTEU, and ANU students, helped -- and your correspondent will take a little credit for Wednesday’s article which banged the drum on Abbott’s intervention of genius. You takes your wins where you can. Physically, I am a fat and bibulous man. Politically, I have the metabolism of a starved hyena, and this win will keep me going for months.

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32 thoughts on “Ramsay Centre collapses under the weight of Western stupidity

  1. rhwombat

    Menzies University. You know they want to. The alternative would be allow the Vicar of Darlington to finish Gollum’s life work and restore the ancien régime at SU, albeit with a facility for albino monks.

    1. Arky

      I’m a bit surprised that Bond University remains the only private university of note in Australia. You’d think someone would have set up, say, Twiggy Forrest University by now. America has a bunch of rinky-dink bastions of the far right, especially the religious right.

      1. Ian Brown

        Please don’t encourage them …

      2. Gavin Moodie

        Notre Dame Australia is a private right wing alternative to the Australian Catholic University. I don’t know whether it is ‘of note’, but one may similarly doubt the noteworthiness of Bond University.

  2. Robert Smith

    Wonder if they would have pulled off this scam if they had not been so keen to gloat about it. Apparently subtlety is not a characteristic of Western civilisation.

  3. Linda Connolly

    Hate to nitpick an article I enjoyed and agree with, but the Persians DID overrun “us” at Thermopylae. It was at the battles of Marathon and (later) Salamis that Persians were defeated and the (brief) Athenian ascendancy born.

    1. Guy Rundle

      hi Linda
      fair point, but only after being held off for a considerable time, and not wholly, which made the rallies at Marathon and Salamis possible. In that respect, Thermopylae tends to be the easiest way to refer to the near death of the West in its infancy

  4. klewso

    “The Ramsay Centre – Where Lewis Carroll Meets the Lotus Eaters”.

  5. Irfan Yusuf

    I dunno. If the academic appointments were being made by the uni and recruitment run by the existing humanities hierarchy, it’s likely the Centre would be dominated by “lefties” anyway. Given the near absence of academic merit at the IPA and CIS, I doubt any of them would be doing anything beyond a guest lecture or two.

    1. Guy Rundle

      yes, but they wouldn’t be. The Ramsay Centre CEO made clear that funding would be conditional on control over the direction and output of the Centre – which would include appointments

  6. Vasco

    Not so sure about the end of the “goon squad cheer squad”. Evil like rust never sleeps so don’t leave the barricades just yet tovarich. Checking whose who on the Ramsay Board is hilarious; nearly as funny as Rebecca Weisser being a mouthpiece for them.

  7. kyle Hargraves

    “No, you can’t teach a university course that “celebrates” “political liberalism” in a way that is compatible with “Socratic” free inquiry that the Ramsay Centre claims it will support”

    yeah — BUT – it seems that courses in “faith” – qua Theology – etc. can be taught at universities with impunity. So, what is the difference? Any odds that the organision goes either on-line or off-shore or both?

    1. 1984AUS

      And don’t forget the almost $300 million in the budget being gifted to proselytizers of any old belief system in public schools.

  8. Michael

    @ Arky—Looking at it from the U.S., this is what ultra-neoliberal think tanks have been doing here since the late 60’s. They ain’t rinky-dink. They have a LOT of money. Beware the invasion of the Drumpfen-volk mindset. Yes, and the evangelicals, too.

  9. Dog's Breakfast

    A recent read of ‘Dark Money’ gives you an idea of how powerful it can be when the moneyed right make their way into universities via special ‘Centres of Excellence/Inquiry/Whatevs’.

    They are there not to enlighten, but to obfuscate, so that the poor punters who don’t read obsessively eventually get overwhelmed by the abundance of opinions masquerading as research. Big Tobacco did it, Big oil has been doing it for 50 years, Big everything is there to make the average plonker vote against their own interests, and certainly against any public interest.

    The manic argument that tax cuts for big corporates will somehow manifest into glorious public good is a classic current example. Against all evidence, or even a modicum of sensible enquiry, the punters are starting to be swayed by the sheer repetition. It is against their interests in 1000 ways, and may have a couple of obscure benefits which will fall almost entirely to the top 5 or 10%, and yet they are believing.

    It’s a lesson in applied ignorance.

    1. leon knight

      Please, please….don’t even mention it again..!!

  10. Helen Gaynor

    “Physically, I am a fat and bibulous man. Politically, I have the metabolism of a starved hyena, and this win will keep me going for months”. Best two sentences of the year so far….

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