Elites at War with the People


An important takeaway from the last four years for many governments is the surprising ease of winning public compliance with demands for intrusive behavioural changes that completely reset the balance of rights and responsibilities between citizens, society, markets, and the government. Instead of implementing policies to give effect to voter priorities, the emboldened dominant metropolitan elites are entirely dedicated to the proposition that citizens should be forced to live by their rules on what to say, think, read, watch, do.

A telling indicator is the abandonment in practice of the long-standing principle of informed consent that was codified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last December and came into effect in January. The net result of this is likely to be a redoubling of efforts to institutionalise and normalise governmental control over additional sectors of public life. If successful, this will embed minority elite worldviews at the cost of majority preferences.

The Australian Election Commission released details this week of the funding received by the two sides campaigning for and against the referendum last October to entrench the Voice for Aboriginal Australians in the constitution. The Yes side received AUD 60 million in total and the No side got between 15 to 30 million. It truly was a David and Goliath battle both in funds and outcome. Yet such inconvenient outcomes of elections and referenda, even when delivered with a 60-40 majority, can simply be disregarded as if they never happened.

The Albanese government has just announced the appointment of the next Governor-General. A former staffer to several senior Labor politicians, Sam Mostyn campaigned for the Yes side in the Voice referendum and has, in a tweet now deleted, referred to Australia Day (26 January) as Invasion Day. Albanese seems to be governing in the Joe Biden mould, promising to unify the nation but exacerbating race and gender-based divisiveness instead. Does this constitute a two-finger salute by the prime minister to the Australian people?

The Australian columnist Janet Albrechtsen is on the mark with her biting comment:

‘Mostyn’s appointment is the crowning achievement for one of the country’s most outspoken quota queens.

‘Her main skills appear to be gender advocacy, networking and being a quota queen, with a helpful side order of ALP [Australian Labor Party] connections.

Recently I was browsing an Australian bookshop online looking for a book to buy and came across the familiar acknowledgement of the traditional owners and custodians of the land and respect to all First Nations people. The virtue signal ended with the assertion that ‘Sovereignty was never ceded.’ At that point I left the site, never to return, with my first and lasting thought being: Mate, the problem is your white guilt, not my white privilege for I have none.

The elites are also intent on telling the people which cars and heating appliances to buy. What news to consume and from which ‘trusted’ source. Thus Ofcom, the UK’s broadcast regulator, has knuckle-rapped the upstart broadcaster GB News whose success with viewers, one suspects, is threatening the cosy dominance of the legacy media with their unwatchable woke-t(a)inted broadcasts. In addition to the by now familiar censorship industrial complex that has gained a suffocating hold in the US, think of the proposed new censorship laws currently being enacted in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland.

Mass Immigration Contradicts Claims of Embedded Structural Racism

The West seems to be in decline economically, militarily, and as a moral inspiration for much of the rest of the world. With self-confidence sapped, its major political parties compete over which of them can be trusted to best manage the decline in order to ensure a soft landing, with slowly depleting wealth, falling standards of living, and global clout and influence shrinking. A telling indicator is the lack of courage to adopt policies of tough love to undo the deadly consequences of pandemic management policies.

Another indicator is the loss of control over border security. Mass inflow of peoples from diverse cultures with radically differing belief systems, values, and rights is not the best recipe for creating an integrated, harmonious, and cohesive new community – who knew? Instead, other than in countries like Japan that refused to go along with the mantra that uncontrolled ‘immigration and diversity’ are always an unqualified good, existing bonds of cohesion are breaking down with alarming speed and creating fresh security headaches.

Nearly nine million illegal migrants have swarmed across from Mexico into the US during Biden’s presidency. The biggest millstone around the Rishi Sunak government trapped in a political death spiral is the hundreds of thousands of legal and illegal migrants. Some 550,000 migrants came into Australia last year. Yet still the cry is raised that the three countries are all irredeemably structurally racist. India is commonly and accurately touted as the world’s fastest growing major economy, yet the outflux of large numbers of its people into the West continues. More of my fellow-ethnics are exploring how best to bring over additional family members from India than are planning to return to the supposedly booming country.

I left India in 1971 to pursue graduate studies in Canada, returned for a year in 1975 to do some archival and interview research, but aborted the visit when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a national emergency to negate a court verdict invalidating her election and assume and exercise dictatorial power. Born and having grown up in independent free India, like most I had taken democratic freedoms for granted and was shocked by the overnight suffocation of the notoriously argumentative Indians, in Amartya Sen’s evocative phrase. My first academic journal publication explored that topic and, at a time when the fashion among young graduate students in North America was to sneer at democracies, I wrote a lament for its demise in India.

That is what decided the issue for me of migrating formally and becoming a Canadian citizen. I then experienced a déjà vu moment with the military coup in Fiji, having taught at the University of the South Pacific for a few years before moving to New Zealand and later Australia.

This is a long explanation of why my commitment to democratic governance, citizens’ rights, and state responsibilities owed to citizens rather than people owing obedience to governments, is grounded in ‘lived experience.’ It also explains my growing despair at the speed with and extent to which Westerners have lost the self-confidence to defend their values, heritage, institutions, and contributions to net human welfare. The fossil fuel-driven Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment between them freed peasants from the land, women from the home, and workers from the ancestral village. These developments helped to destroy feudalism, emancipate workers, and democratise citizenship.

Europe also became superior in the weapons of war and colonised vast parts of Africa, Asia, and South America. The colonial legacy is mixed rather than uniformly evil or virtuous. Every culture and civilisation has dark stains in its history and few borders today are not the result of the use of force in the past. That said, is there a country that contributed more to the end of slavery than Britain? How many people from developing countries owe gains in life expectancy, education, income, political rights, and life opportunities to intellectual and scientific revolutions in Europe? How many more decades will they blame colonial powers for the continuing misery of their lives instead of pointing the finger of responsibility back at their own rapacious regimes?

Yet, Westerners seem intent on feeding the bonfires that are consuming them. There’s almost a palpable end-of-Roman Empire fin de siècle feel in the air. The Wall Street Journal reported on 17 March that in the latest global self-reported happiness rankings, the Nordics once again took the top four positions. Australians are the tenth-happiest people. The US has dropped out of the top twenty, owing primarily to the self-focussed and social media-obsessed under-30s who ranked 62nd globally.

Reasons for this include indoctrination in schools and universities that their culture and history are evil and racist, attacks on their ‘privileged oppressor’ identity, and relentless climate catastrophising. At an appearance in parliament on 20 March, Rebecca Knox, Chair of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said she agrees with a report which concluded that her force is ‘institutionally racist.’ Lee Anderson MP asked her if white people had any unfair advantages in her force. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘Then how can you be institutionally racist,’ he asked. ‘Um, sorry, I might have to get back to you,’ she stammered.

While all Caucasians are taught to be ashamed of white privilege, males bear the extra stain of toxic masculinity. Yet this is the exact same trait that impels men rather than women to come to the defence of women under attack in public spaces. I would expect an overwhelming male dominance in the top ten professions ranked by mortality risk, as also in jobs that require hard labour over long hours for little pay. And also in jobs that call for frequent travel to take people away from family.

An article in Forbes in 2018 reported US Bureau of Labor statistics that men are twelve times more likely than women to be killed at work, 4.761 to 386 in 2017. The ten most dangerous jobs in America, the Washington Post reported last year, are fishing and hunting, logging, roofers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, helpers, construction workers, refuse and recyclable material collectors, structural iron and steel workers, truckers, underground mining machine operators, and farmers and ranchers. Unsurprisingly, in general they are also paid much better.

A recent gender gap report on Australian businesses from the Orwellian-sounding Workplace Gender Equality Agency measured gender equity – that is, equality of outcomes – by the median earnings of men and women, not allowing for any other considerations. Effectively this is anti-choice in practice. For most pay differentials today, when paying differently for the same work to men and women with similar qualifications and experience is illegal, are better explained by lifestyle and life balance choices that women make, and very sensibly too.

In Cathy Newman’s train wreck interview of Jordan Peterson in January 2018 that has had almost 48 million views on YouTube, he made the powerful argument that the Scandinavian countries are possibly the most gender egalitarian in providing equal opportunities to women in the job market without the pressure of worrying about financial security. Turns out that when women have true choice freed of financial security concerns, family time, and low-stress occupations are more important to them than high-flyer positions with generous compensation packages.

In New Zealand, the progressive embrace of all things Maori is so deeply internalised that in cross-national group discussions, Kiwi colleagues unthinkingly resort to Maori greetings to start and end messages(kia kaha katoa, kia ora koutou, arohanui). They forget that this is gross bad manners because it’s rude and discourteous to speak in a foreign language that excludes some in the group from the conversation. Maybe I should respond in Hindi, including the foreign script?

Climate and Trans Extremism

Holly Valance, the Australian-origin former Neighbours soap star, describes Greta Thunberg as a ‘demonic little gremlin high priestess of climatism’ who is treated ‘as a goddess in the classrooms despite contributing to the epidemic of ‘depression and anxiety’ in children.

Trans-activists are erasing the word woman even from motherhood and sexual assaults. Nurses are advised to use words like ‘birthing parents’ and ‘chestfeeding’ as substitutes for mothers and breastfeeding. Harry Potter series author JK Rowling has promised to keep calling transwomen ‘men’ and risk criminal conviction after a new Scottish law, that threatens to severely punish factually correct speech that violates legally correct definitions, came into effect on 1 April, appropriately enough. The linguistic gender madness of the crowds is spreading to esteemed medical journals that are banishing the ‘w’ word and associated language.

In Canada, a Supreme Court justice gratuitously reprimanded a lower court judge for using the word woman, in a sexual assault case no less, instead of a ‘person with vagina.’ That too with the explanation that the single word was confusing in comparison to the clarity of her own preferred phrase. Neither the complainant nor the accused in the case claimed to be transgender and gender identity and language was not an issue before the court. To cap it all, the decision came on International Women’s Day (8 March). I hope someone has forwarded Rowling’s mischievous tweet to the judge: ‘Happy Birthing Parent Day to all whose large gametes were fertilised resulting in small humans whose sex was assigned by doctors making mostly lucky guesses.’

Recording trans-identifying males as women in violent crime statistics, including rape and murder, will only distort and make a mockery of sex-specific statistics on violent crime. This was highlighted with the murder conviction of ‘Scarlet Blake,’ in February. He was recorded as a woman by the police in their official statistics even though sent to a male prison. The Women’s Rights Network pointedly asked: why accept his claim of being a woman against the clear biological evidence when, because of the evidence against him, you didn’t accept his protestations of innocence?

Such are the contradictions when legal fiction collides with the reality of male-female interactions in prisons. Because ‘deadnaming’ is criminalised, his pre-trans name cannot be published. Because the media lacks the courage to fight this en masse, the insanity is slowly but surely normalised.

New age feminists attack alleged male privileges but support men who claim to be women under the banal slogan ‘transwomen are women and trans rights are human rights.’ The push for more women in boardrooms, meant to redress gender imbalance, is subverted when transwomen are included in the female category in gender-specific lists of CEOs.

Cleanse your memory of the aggressive big trans bullies you see in action on the streets intimidating gender-realist critics. The ultimate emotional blackmail card of trans-terrorists is the threat of self-harm and suicide by vulnerable trans snowflakes. Watch any old Bollywood movie and you will quickly discover that the master of emotional blackmail as the tool of choice for ensuring compliance by adult children with parents’ wishes is the Indian family.

To be clear, I have nothing but sympathy for adults who feel genuinely trapped in the wrong body and are more comfortable with dress, appearance, and lifestyle choices better suited to their felt gender. But I draw the line at using trans identity to violate women’s hard-earned rights to dignity, privacy, and safety, from locker rooms and toilets to rape and domestic violence shelters, hospital wards, and prisons. Inclusion for trans should not become an alibi to enable abuse of women. Any gender equality law based on gender self-ID can be quickly corrupted into a predator’s charter that shreds women’s rights. Telling women to subordinate their safety worries to accommodate the wishes of biological males is old-fashioned misogyny.

Wokery and Net Zero Are Strategic Own Goals by the West

UK Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch is surely right to insist that quota-filling clumsy diversity drives are not a substitute for effective action to redress inequalities. Often, instead of unity and inclusion they produce division and alienation. Do Western elites have any real grasp of the mockery and ridicule in which they are held for their indulgence of race baiters and grifters and obsession with pronouns and rainbow flags? They present easy targets for the world’s autocrats to point to the dangers of activist-captured democracy. In a fiery address to the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi in October 2021, President Vladimir Putin attacked teaching children ‘that a boy can become a girl and vice versa’ as monstrous and ‘on the verge of a crime against humanity.’ He stoutly rejected the demands of transgender rights supporters to end ‘basic things such as mother, father, family or gender differences.’

Woke activists have little understanding of the real world beyond their privileged existence, would not understand real equality if it hit them in the face, and are engaged in a permanent protest against fairness and merit. Educators, for example, are conceding defeat and kowtowing to the soft bigotry of low expectations by abandoning the requirement for basic maths literacy because, allegedly, this is racist discrimination against minority students and reinforces systemic white privilege. Shh, don’t mention the superior maths abilities and performance of Chinese and Indian students. Instead, do an end run around the US Supreme Court judgment to deny them equal opportunity admissions into the elite universities.

Jordan Peterson may be the best known for the cancelling action by his professional college, but he is not the only Canadian cancelee. There’s also the cases of Ottawa surgeon Miklos Matyas and Ontario doctor Kulvinder Kaur Gill, among others, both of whom have been punished by their respective regulators for having the temerity to give their best professional judgment to their patients on matters relating to Canada’s Covid policies. Elon Musk has stepped in to pay the latter’s legal costs.

The democratic centre has been infiltrated and captured by the elite fringe. Just like those who spoke out against and refused to go along with the Covid narrative, many have been cancelled for calling out the madness of the metastasising wokery. They should take comfort and solace in the truth that by the enemies they make in resisting tyranny, they shall be known for their virtues of courage and integrity.

An even bigger threat to the West’s relative power is the singular determination to destroy its economies and transfer wealth to China through self-harm in the doomed pursuit of Net Zero. The alleged climate emergency has become the de facto battleground for strategic dominance carried out by other means. European manufacturers of solar panels are facing extinction because of the massive influx of Chinese products and the mix of incentives for electric vehicles (EVs). Extra levies on internal combustion engines (ICE) are subsidising China’s already dominant EV industry.

This is over and above the harsh reality that EVs make neither economic, environmental, nor energy security sense when all factors are taken into consideration over the full life cycle of a vehicle. If vehicle emissions were measured in the components and energy requirements in the total production cycle, energy mix in the grid, backup power requirements, impact of tyres and weight, and disposal after end of life, EVs would likely be banned for performing not too well.

The claim of 97 percent scientific consensus behind man-made global warming was always a confected furphy. The new Climate The Movie exposes this big lie with several credible experts questioning the science behind the rush to embrace Net Zero. Countries should look for the energy sweet spot between emissions, reliability, affordability, and collateral costs that lead to ruin. For two-three decades I’ve been hearing that renewables will make emissions-free power supply plentiful, reliable, and progressively cheaper. So far ‘lived’ experience is the exact opposite on all three counts.

Come to think of it, this reminds me of the ‘safe and effective’ mantra I heard more recently in an entirely different context.

Because of the fixation on CO2 emissions, market forces and consumer choice are not permitted to determine what people buy and what products businesses make and sell. Even conservative governments use state power to dictate production and consumer choices, from nuclear power to EVs. EV sales have been slowing and dealers’ stocks are not budging beyond fleet sales, with the first early signs of pushback even in the latter category. Hertz is cutting its losses and eliminating its EV fleet of hire vehicles. Manufacturers have put production on hold. Sales of  hybrids have grown with no range and charging station anxiety.

Emulating the doomed heat pump mandate in the UK, President Joe Biden imposed a government fiat on consumer preference in the US with a sweeping crackdown on petrol cars. Half of all cars sold in the US by 2030 must be electric. Let’s wait and see how this holds up against the bumper sticker opposition ‘Biden is coming for your truck.’ On 21 March Audi issued a second recall of EVs sold in Australia owing to battery fire risk. British citizens have been awakened to the real-world impacts of the rush to embrace heat pumps and EVs. The perennially cash-strapped National Health Service prefers to spend half a billion pounds on switching to electric ambulances instead of hiring more frontline nurses.

Here’s a radical thought. How about we leave it to the market to decide? If the product is not genuinely better, people will reject it. If it is, people will buy it.

The Peasants Are Revolting

What about the brilliant conception of installing ‘smart’ meters that quietly monitor people’s power usage, check them against total usage in the grid, and then match consumers’ demand to their supply requirements rather than the old-fashioned notion that supply should match demand?

Another pet hate is self-service checkouts. I have so far successfully refused to use any, mainly because I can afford to indulge my anger at the attempt to wipe out more jobs that reduces still further the daily human interactions so essential to our sense of well-being as social animals. Now the smart business types are discovering that as they reduce their customers’ shopping experience to a purely transactional exchange, the normative restraints against petty theft are softening and the incidence of shoplifting has increased. More and more staff are needed to check customers, angering the holdout honest ones even more at being treated as potential thieves at the cost of brand loyalty; and staff are still required to deal with equipment failures and inadequacies.

In other words businesses have been seduced by false economies. And so it is coming to pass that in both the UK and the US, shops are doing away with self-service in favour of manned checkouts once again.

As this shows, people are mobilising to fight back. The ‘Bud Light moment’ has entered marketing folklore as the perfect lesson of go woke, go broke. Hollywood and Disney are relearning that people watch movies and TV shows to be entertained and not to be lectured on moralism. Political activism by the entertainment industry cuts into profits. In the UK, when the BBC reprimanded Justin Webb, a longtime radio presenter, for saying ‘trans women, in other words males’, it caused an internal ‘meltdown’ among female staff who described his statement as fact.

In the US, 16 female athletes have launched a lawsuit against their professional association that allowed Lia Thomas to share a locker room and bathroom facilities with more than 300 women despite ‘full male genitalia.’ This exposed the athletes ‘to shock, humiliation, and embarrassment in violation of their constitutional right to bodily privacy.’ In Alaska, Patricia Silva confronted a man shaving in the women’s locker room, was banned from Planet Fitness gym for violating its policy of inclusive kindness, and posted on X that the gym would rather cancel her membership than protect young women and 12-year-old girls from ‘men with a penis.’

More generally, realisation is dawning across the West, but not yet in Australia, that routine prescription of puberty-blocking drugs to gender-confused young people is child abuse. England banned these for under-18s on 12 March.

The groupthink afflicting elites is compounded by the bribery, coercion, and censorship of legacy and social media which, intended to deprive people of alternative thinking, has instead disconnected elites from what Hiluxland is thinking. Hence the cultural-political aftershocks when voters show their refusal to be cowed and shamed. The revolt by European farmers has not only brought electoral success in the Netherlands. It has also forced the European Commission to slash environmental regulations for the agricultural sector against the advice from climate scientists.

Like the Voice referendum in Australia, Ireland’s twin referendum to redefine the family and women’s central role in it was defeated decisively despite the united support of the metropolitan and political elites. On current opinion polls that have persisted for months, Canada’s Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre shows that clearly and forcefully confronting progressive rostrums is likely to be richly rewarded by voters, even among the youth.

How long until centre-right political leaders across the Western democracies grasp the truth that the cultural hegemony is not as crushingly successful as believed by the elites? Without embracing populism, they can still address the practical concerns, interests, and aspirations that animate working and middle class people worried by cost of living pressures, breakdowns of family and social cohesion, and retreat from pride in flag, country, and religion. These majority voting cohorts are worried about mass immigration, the erosion of women’s rights under the relentless assault from trans activists, and the absolutist agenda of Net Zero and damn the costs.

In a recent column for the National Post in Canada, Jordan Peterson referred to ‘the flag of toxic compassion.’ I think I may be coming down with a case of systemic toxic compassion fatigue!

Earlier versions of this were published in two parts by the Spectator Australia on 30 March and 6 April.

  • Ramesh Thakur, a Brownstone Institute Senior Scholar, is a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and emeritus professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

    View all posts


You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes