Peter Hitchens vs the absolute seedbed of totalitarianism…

THE sneering foulness of the Left is bubbling up like overflow from an unblocked sewer at the realisation the Abbott government is here to stay.

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From Jonathan Biggins’ cri de coeur playing at the Wharf Theatre, to the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Opera House, to the live audience of the ABC’s Q&A, lefties are suffering an existential crisis.

The letters page of the SMH is exploding with rage. Refugee advocate Julian Burnside has found his vicious tongue. Student protesters – suddenly enraged about cuts brought in by Labor – burn effigies of Tony Abbott.

Welcome back to the Howard years, those glory days when the Left laid claim to the moral high ground.

Much of the baggage Labor brought with it into office, and which eventually brought it down, was filled with progressive fancies. The last six years was an uncomfortable time for lefties as their wishes were granted by government (hello open borders, hello carbon tax).

None of it turned out well, but they now pretend it wasn’t the ideas that were the problem. Not that they want to think too hard because they’re too busy revelling in victimhood, post-election.

A selection from the Fairfax letters pages shows their fighting spirit: “Abbott’s neo-idiocrasy”; “Climate change deniers and coalminers will be dancing in the streets with Abbott”; “This is what happens when you send a boy to do a woman’s work”; “Please, Tony Abbott, couldn’t I just say an ‘Our Father’ and 10 ‘Hail Marys’?”; “Can we be sure it was The Lodge and not Rome he has been aiming for?” Oh, yes, Abbott is worse even than Howard. He’s Catholic! Herewith, some tales from the frontline.

At the Wharf Theatre on Monday night the chattering classes wallowed in the rueful melancholy of Whoops – The Wharf Revue. The mystery is that: “Abbott (deficient of faculty) delights not many … And yet he rules.”

In one skit “the last surviving Q&A panel”, including Bob Ellis and Marieke Hardy, cower as the Abbott forces storm the citadels of culture. Amid the sound of exploding ordnance, a football falls at their feet: “Oh no! Eddie McGuire is closer than we think.”

Yuk yuk. The barbarians are through the gate.

In another skit, Abbott is played as a lip-smacking Neanderthal: “a smug Catholic knob … a blokey bloke not worth two bob” whose only skill is producing “soundbites of unrelenting negativity”.

The same theme was taken up by the real Q&A on ABC TV later that night.

“For me the biggest mystery is that Tony Abbott is a Rhodes Scholar,” sneered Germaine Greer to howls of laughter from the audience.

The program was a classic in the genre of conservative-bashing.

The cleverest person on the panel was British conservative columnist Peter Hitchens, eloquently arguing against same-sex marriage, and other totemic issues of progressives. Or trying to.

He could barely complete a sentence without being interrupted by Greer, American homosexual activist Dan Savage (whose “dangerous idea” is making abortion mandatory for 30 years), and Hanna Rosin, author of The End Of Men.

Tony Jones gave all free rein – except to Hitchens.

“I’m stopping you,” Jones told Hitchens.

“Don’t stop me … I haven’t finished my answer,” protested Hitchens. “You haven’t stopped anyone else.”

It’s always the way.

The audience is as bad. “It’s a rally,” Hitchens told them, waiting to speak over applause for a Savage interjection. “While you do this I can’t talk, and you know it, and that’s to your shame because silencing opponents is a very wicked thing to do.”

He even told his fellow panellists they were “fantastically intolerant”.

“This is the absolute seedbed of totalitarianism. When you start believing that the opinions of other people are a pathology then you are in the beginning of the stage that leads to the secret police and the gulag.”

Yes, it is true that Abbott has won the election. But conservatives have never yet won the culture war.

When Labor is in office, the Left do their work, quietly, inside the corridors of power, to change the nature of the country. The curriculum, the universities, the ABC, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the National Museum of Australia. They do it for posterity.

When conservatives are in power, they keep busy fixing the economy, controlling the borders, maybe switching off a money tap or two at the ABC.

But they are too polite to seize the narrative of history. In the culture wars it’s always two steps forward for the Left. The best conservatives have ever managed is to maintain the status quo.

When conservatives are in power, the Left make merry mischief. They bully and bluster and fill every cultural space.

Which is why, for all their moaning, they haven’t been this excited for years.

(The comments are good too!)