Thursday, December 27, 2007
From: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974
By John Ray
IN THE SOCIAL sciences, and among intellectuals generally, one can detect a quite remarkable consensus on a wide range of issues that can generally be described as 'liberal' if not 'Leftist': Racism is a uniformly bad thing; capital punishment is barbaric; white Rhodesians are villains; BHP makes too much profit; overseas ownership of our industry must be reduced; wage rises for unionists are always just unless the union concerned happens to be the Australian Medical Association; we must conserve our mineral resources; the world is in danger of overpopulation; blacks are just as intelligent as whites; inflation is inevitable without government control of prices; all men should have equal rights unless they happen to be anti-communists; free speech is an inalienable right unless you happen to be the Rhodesia Information Centre; more education is needed; public examinations should be abolished; French nuclear tests are stupid and wicked (but not Chinese tests); the unionists' right to strike must not be interfered with (but they may interfere with others' right to work); Australian industries must be protected from overseas competition; decentralisation is an urgent need; 'the Arts' should be subsidised; we are ruled by a power elite; the workers are alienated; we live in a society that is increasingly conformist; everybody has his own construction of reality, none of which is more valid than any other; man is naturally good, but has been corrupted by "the system"; Marx was a great prophet; science should be relevant; an Arts education promotes critical thought; Vietnam was an American crime motivated by economic self-interest; the West should disarm; armies are not really necessary; police are the sign of a sick society; and competitiveness is the disease of Western society.
Probably very few individuals hold at once all the opinions listed above, and that list itself is but a brief sample of the total field, but none the less, viewpoints such as the above are at the very least much better represented in what social scientists read, write and say than are their contraries. Their contraries are what this book is about.
Social scientists and other intellectuals have created fashions of thought for themselves -- dogmas, creeds and superstitions -- which ought to be challenged by anyone devoted to the truth for its own sake. If social scientists are, as they fancy themselves to be, iconoclasts supreme, they should be careful to set their own house in order first. Before they criticise the rest of society, are their own assumptions open to criticism? I believe they are. Among social scientists, conservatism is the true non-conformity. Through this book it is hoped that all readers will have the opportunity of judging the matter for themselves.
The book is divided (perhaps a little arbitrarily) into two sections: one devoted to popular treatments (generally short) of topical or everyday political issues and the other devoted to longer papers on more academic topics within social science. There is no pretence that the coverage given to the conservative viewpoint in this book is in any way complete. The articles and papers included are simply one selection from a very large universe of possibilities. The guiding rules for selection have centred on the extensiveness of the iconoclasm displayed; its comparative inaccessibility in other sources and its everyday relevance in political debate. Other papers and articles considered but which were excluded for reasons of limited space would alone make up several books as large as the present one.
School of Sociology
University of New South Wales Kensington, N.S.W.
John J. Ray (M.A., Ph.D. )