The Null Device

"Democratic personalism"

The twilight of secularism (an ongoing series): Australia's highest-ranking Catholic clergyman and leading conservative hardliner, Cardinal George Pell, gave a speech comparing Islam to Communism and saying that secular democracy has failed and must be replaced with what he called "democratic personalism", with paternalistic Christian government being the only hope of countering the spread of fundamentalist Islam.
"The small but growing conversion of native Westerners within Western societies to Islam carries the suggestion that Islam may provide in the 21st century the attraction which communism provided in the 20th, both for those who are alienated or embittered on the one hand, and for those who seek order or justice on the other," he said.
He asked: "Does democracy need a burgeoning billion-dollar pornography industry to be truly democratic? Does it need an abortion rate in the tens of millions? "What would democracy look like if you took some of these things out of the picture? Would it cease to be democracy? Or would it actually become more democratic?"

Perhaps, after a few more terms of John Howard/Tony Abbott, we'll find out. Besides which, "democratic personalism" has a nicely euphemistic ring to it. Given how misleading it is for the Tories to call themselves the "Liberal Party", perhaps they'll take the hint and rename themselves the Democratic Personalist Party.

There are 6 comments on ""Democratic personalism"":

Posted by: steff http:// Sun Nov 14 22:38:30 2004

Well, finally the transition from old enemy image (the COMMUNIST) to new enemy image (swarthy middle easterners) is complete. The media and governments tried their best to prevent this misunderstanding, I'm sure. (YOU ARE WATCHING FOX) Interestingly, every country seems to have its far-right wing lunatic catholic head honcho. Germany certainly has its version of Pell, the archbishop of Cologne (thankfully I forget his name). Let's hope that Pell's remains one lunatic's view. The separation of church and state is of course under *ahem* "review" in the US (where reportedly about 1/3 of the citizens identify themselves as born again Christian), but Australia appears to be more secular still at this point ? Can't see this reversal of basic principals of state governance taking in place in Europe, yet.

Posted by: acb Mon Nov 15 00:49:41 2004

Various intellectuals are claiming that the age of secularism which began with the Enlightenment is coming to an end; there's a book with that thesis, titled "The Twilight of Atheism". It seems scary though plausible; what if things like cultural liberalism, sexual permissiveness and pluralism aren't the manifest destiny of an evolving society, but merely the furthest reach of a receding tide?

Posted by: acb Mon Nov 15 00:50:49 2004

Anyway, there are plenty of lunatics who share Pell's views. The Prime Minister of Australia, for one, and much of his cabinet.

Posted by: steff http:// Mon Nov 15 05:34:40 2004

Hmm, it's a seductive thesis, but rather pre-emptive. If what you call enlightenment (and it never was an homogenous "movement" or collection of thoughts, ideas & ideals) is coming to an end, it will not do so quietly. Took roughly 400 years to get going to start with (- if we accept Luther as a random starting point). There have always been those lunatics like Pell. Their psychosexual fantasy of preaching fire & brimstone and the END OF ALL MANKIND must be powerful indeed. This tug of war will keep going for several hundred more years :( I have started to think of mankind as being in early toddler stage still: want this, want that, and no respect or empathy for others. But already we have a concept of freedom, human rights, atheism, etc etc. Too bad if it all ends up being cyclical and Nietzsche was right all along. To be continued eh...

Posted by: Graham Mon Nov 15 13:05:10 2004

Running back to Daddy, eh? I don't think so. George Pell is dreaming - his church alone, along with other demoninations, has been responsible for fucking up so many people in the head that it's probably just as responsible for the ills in society than any "insidious secularisation"...

And in case you haven't been keeping up to date, Andrew, Howard (and a few female Liberal MPs) basically stomped on Abbott's abortion dog-whistling - remember, Howard's an Anglican and Abbott's a Mick, and strangely enough that still counts in the minds of those who still regard secularisation as a bad thing...

Posted by: Tory Ben http:// Tue Nov 16 13:24:13 2004

Yes, got to keep those d*mned Catholics in their place or they'll take over the place (they breed, multiply and emigrate faster than anyone else you know).