POLITICAL FOLLIES OF YOUTH
Tim Blair, Bernard Slattery, Aaron Oakley and others have been reflecting lately on how they and many other well-known Australian conservatives started out on the Left and for various reasons became fed up with it and moved towards the Right.
In the full knowledge that it leaves me open to the accusation that I have no "heart" I am pleased to say that I joined a conservative political party in my teens and have lived to see much of what I have always believed in (such as the folly and brutality of Communism) vindicated by time. In my case, the world has moved in my direction rather than vice versa. The 1970s were arguably the high-water-mark of Leftism but in 1974 I published a largish book in defence of conservatism!
There are many lifelong conservatives like me but few of them bother to talk about it much. Just as it often said that there is no anti-Catholic like an ex-Catholic, so it is that those who are most vocally anti-Left are usually ex-Leftists. I guess that they resent being conned and very commendably try their hardest to save others from the same fate. My motivation is that I have always seen irrationality and dishonesty as highroads to disaster.
Ray, J.J. (1974) Conservatism as heresy. Sydney: ANZ Book Co.
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
A cowboy dressed in a cowboy shirt, hat, jeans, spurs and chaps went to a bar and ordered a drink. As he sat there sipping his whiskey, a young lady sat down next to him.
After she ordered her drink she turned to the cowboy and asked him, "Are you a real cowboy?"
To which he replied, "Well, I have spent my whole life on the ranch, herding cows, breaking horses, mending fences, I guess I am."
After a short while he asked her what she was. She replied,
"I've never been on a ranch so I'm not a cowboy, but I am a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about women. As soon as I get up in the morning I think of women, when I eat, shower, watch TV, everything seems to make me think of women."
A short while later she left and the cowboy ordered another drink.
A couple sat down next to him and asked, "Are you a real cowboy?"
To which he replied, "I always thought I was, but I just found out that I'm a lesbian."
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
There has been a lot of rage in the blogosphere about the ban on Xmas paraphenalia in British Red Cross shops. Now I would never donate to the Red Cross because of their tradition of Antisemitism but I think that their explanation of this one is reasonable. See here.
By the way, even though I am an atheist, I love Xmas, Xmas carols and Xmas day. Christmas symbols certainly do not "offend" me one bit. I will probably in fact attend the 9.30am divine service at Brisbane's marvellous St John's Anglican Cathedral on Xmas day because I love the old hymns and other Xmas music. And the Anglicans have always known how to put on a good show: Big ecclesiastical processions with lots of shiny stuff, tastefully magnificent vestments, smells and bells, anodyne sermons, Anglican chant etc. Great stuff!
(But the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches have the best hats!)
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
I suspect that I am seen by some as the bad boy of Australian conservative blogging -- too "extreme"! I think that I am unlikely to change, however. I have just been looking at a few things I wrote over a quarter of a century ago in my book Conservatism as heresy. Somewhat to my surprise, I find that I was pulling few punches then too. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 -- which is a reprint of something that originally appeared in Nation Review in 1973. I was discussing the now thoroughly laughable Zero Population Growth movement:
If any further evidence for the obsessional neuroticism of this movement were needed, it could be found in the amazing way it treats the entire world population as an undifferentiated, featureless gruel. Because the world population is expanding steadily, it is argued that we in Australia should therefore limit our numbers.
This is to regard Australian as being in the same situation as Bangladesh -- which we most evidently are not. If love of sweeping generalizations were the basis of comparison, the ZPG movement could well be compared with Hitler's Nazism.
Sound familiar? Lots of conservatives started out as Leftists. I don't think I have changed a bit.
Sunday, December 15, 2002
I grew up in Innisfail -- a place that was 50% an Australian country town and 50% an Italian village. Since then I have always had an affection for Italians. Italian was even one of my matriculation languages (Ho studiato Italiano a scuola ma ho quasi tutto dimenticato). So I have always thought it in keeping that Mussolini's Italian Fascism appears to have been the mildest of all the many Leftist dictatorships of the 20th century. The Italian Fascist response to political rivals was not to torture them to death but simply to give them a large dose of Castor oil! Almost funny! Here is a link about another instance of Italian humaneness in the Fascist era.
I went to a local Sunday market this morning and, as I walked in, was greeted by the lush sound of a Salvation Army brass band playing some wonderful Christmas Carols from our great Christian past. No multicultural rubbish there! Thank God for the Sallies!
As an expression of tolerance for different customs, languages, foods etc, multiculturalism is a perfectly sound idea. But when the obscene Left turn it into an attack on all that we hold dear it is a cause for anger.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Being both a libertarian and a monarchist is an unusual combination. The only blogger that I know of other than myself who holds such views is Redwood Dragon. I am pleased to see, therefore, that one of Britain's most prolific libertarian writers -- Sean Gabb -- has also just written a lucid defence of the British monarchy.
My only quarrel with him is that he underestimates the support for the monarchy in Australia. There are many Australians -- mostly older and female -- here who quite openly declare that they "love" the Queen. And if your old Mum loves the Queen, you are going to be pretty constricted in saying much against the monarchy! And in our recent constitutional referendum -- fought specifically on whether to have the Queen or a political appointee as Head of State -- two thirds of Australians voted to retain the monarchy. How the Leftist wreckers must have hated that!
I also put up a defence of monarchy (in general) about two-thirds of the way through my article here.
Monday, December 2, 2002
Below is the letter I sent out with my Christmas cards in early December
I am going to be much briefer with my life-update this year because this year I have discovered blogging! The definition of a blog: A personal website that is upgraded approximately daily -- an online diary, in other words. Some blogs (short for "weblog") are diaries of what is happening in the writer's life and some are diaries of what the person has been thinking. Mine is in the latter category. So my Xmas email this year has a very large supplement at: http://jonjayray.blogspot.com.
There are a lot of links to my blog on other people's blogs so that means that lots of other people like reading my blog. That is mainly because mine is mainly about politics -- and politics is of interest to many people. It has always been a major interest of mine so reading other political blogs and writing my blog now takes up most of my day! I spend most of my day glued in front of my computer. I think it is a harmless pastime for a retired 59-year-old but I must admit that it seems to have taken over my life. I still go out for dinner most nights (generally with company) but other than that I hardly go out at all. I always was a bit antisocial but now I am VERY antisocial. And I hardly even watch TV now.
I also ended up having a total of 5 papers on conservative politics published during the year on "FrontPage" online magazine. It has over a million readers a month so surpasses even the big newspapers in reach -- and unlike newspapers, its reach is worldwide. You can find it at http://frontpagemag.com. I got heaps of interesting email out of it. My papers are at:
My son Joe continues to thrive. He was 6' tall on his 15th Birthday in July so is already towering over everyone around him. I gave him a faster computer for his birthday so he can play the latest games.
He starts sub-Senior at school next year so is now only two years away from university! He has enrolled for a whole host of demanding subjects -- chemistry, physics, top-level maths etc so he should get into the science faculties at uni easily. I am encouraging him to think of the biological sciences as a career. The best predictor of whether anyone will get a doctorate is whether his/her father has one so Joe should have an easy ride into an academic career. His school report cards continue to be every parent's dream.
I continue to be amazed and pleased at how much he is a chip off the old block. He gets a good nature and good looks off his mother (lucky for him) but the rest he seems to have gotten mainly off me.
The stockmarket was my major hobby until I got into blogging (I am still $150,000 ahead despite the recent market downturn) and Joe is mad-keen to get into it too. He even got himself a part-time job helping in a shop so he could save money to start investing with. He reads the financial press and often discusses the prospects of various companies with me. Since good stock-pickers are extremely rare (some of the worst being those who are professionals at it -- ask almost anyone how the money in their superannuation fund is going) Joe is lucky to have a good stock-picker as a father.
He continues, however, to be enormously interested in classical music -- as I am. I took him to a performance of Handel's "Messiah" at St John's cathedral again this year, which he greatly enjoyed. One of his teachers at school recently had a part in a big 19th century opera being performed here in Brisbane and tried to get kids from the school (Joe is still at Clairvaux McKillop Catholic college) to go along to see it -- and Joe was the only kid in the school who took up the offer! He has asked for a recording of Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" for Xmas so I have got that for him -- all 14 CDs! He has been learning piano since he was aged 4 and has recently taken up singing lessons as well.
He has also now written his first novel and is working on the second. He knows that the chances of getting anything published are almost zero but it is just something he wants to do. So both he and I spend much of our day writing -- though on different subjects. What he writes is fantasy/horror fiction. I was literary at his age too but I only wrote poetry.
My personal life is too complex at the moment to bear discussion but I am pretty pleased with it nonetheless. I continue to dine with Jenny (Joe's mother) once a week, however.
For my birthday in July, my old friend Jill gave me a Sunday lunch, I went to an Indian restaurant with a girlfriend on the Monday and on Tuesday Jenny cooked me one of my favourite dinners (Korean egg-rolled pork).
I am now firmly ensconced in my 10-bedroom "Old Queenslander" house at Woolloongabba in the heart of Brisbane. I have a separate flat with two large bedrooms to myself and let out the remaining rooms to tenants -- the income from which pays most of my bills. I recently had airconditioning installed in my part of the house so I am already enjoying that. I am close enough to the famous "Gabba" cricket-ground to hear the crowds roar when somebody hits a six.
I have had no significant health problems so far but my visits to the dermatologist for the purpose of zapping skin-cancers continue to be frequent. Growing up in the tropics with fair Celtic skin is not a good combination.
My stepson Paul had an eventful year. He and his computer business went bankrupt during the year so he promptly started a new one under the name "Floppy Dick's" -- with the motto "Where you won't get screwed". I kid you not. He has incredible good humour and enjoyment of life. He has always been one of the few who always get my jokes. His new business does seem to be doing well and he now has two shops and employs his father! He also got married during the year to a very nice and attractive young lady who, despite being of partly Filipino ancestry, is 6' tall!