Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, November 05, 2002

You have to feel sympathy for Auntiques like Pastor Terry Lane as they struggle to come to terms with a new world disorder that cares nothing for old European bastards of the Enlightenment like Marx.

No you don't. You can observe, however, what a furious cacophony has become the former steady buzz of the Pastor's confused mind.

On this week's drone he shared the sound stage with two chaps with views on security matters, an expert on intelligence and a civil liberties lawyers, both called Williams. The civil libertarian Williams was there just for the stroking, of course, and the intelligence Williams there to be told that he couldn't tell Lane that the ASIO of today is not the ASIO of Lane's yesteryears.

All predictable. But the Pastor is not entirely happy with his new allies in the jihad on the Great Satan. His next guest was a young woman lawyer Randa Abdel-Fattah, who, following an education within the confines of a Muslim college, is wondering very publicly about her future in this country.

The Pastor, who now confines his preaching to the political domain, as far as Uncle knows, accepts the fine European tradition of the separation of Church and State. Not so Ms Abdel-Fattah. She believes the precepts of Islam should be applied by legislation to civil society. Only in moral matters of course. And not democratically, but using the Koranic principle of consultation. And perhaps this only applies to believers, whatever that might mean. This kid is seriously confused.

A rather shocked Pastor reached for the bell book and candle, inviting her to nominate another country in which she would prefer to reside. She felt unable to do so, beyond excluding the Middle East. No idea why quasi-democracies like Indonesia, or Malaysia if you want to be richer, were not good enough for her.

Now here's the interesting spectacle that led me into this little reflection: Pastor Lane is totally unconscious of his own hyprocrisy. As a self-professed Marxist he claims, like his young Islamist guest, the right to use the freedoms of liberal capitalist society to imagine and promote a society of saints which would certainly not be, whatever its other virtues, liberal or prosperous. Why shouldn't this young fanatic claim the same privilege?

In any case, young Randa was not granted admission to the victims' lounge.

Does the Pastor preach any longer that societies based on the politics of Marx will be freer and more prosperous than the liberal democratic alternative, despite the thorough trialling of the twentieth century? It may well be that his Marxism owes more to Groucho than to Karl. That is, a licence for cynicism.

Here endeth the lesson.