Ideas@TheCentre – The Centre for Independent Studies


Ideas@TheCentre brings you ammunition for conversations around the table.  3 short articles from CIS researchers emailed every Friday on the issues of the week.

How long for Australia?

Peter Kurti

16 June 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

PK religious violence Islamist rebels in Syria 1Although free for so long from the scourge of political and religious terrorism, in the long term, Australia can hardly avoid a deadly Islamist attack such as occurred in London or Manchester.

But these were not acts of ordinary, politically motivated terrorism. Jihadists have no political or social objectives they seek to achieve. Forget negotiating politics with them.

Many of our politicians thinks it’s simply a matter of decisively stamping out extremist Islamist ideology. But what does getting tough on extremism really amount to?

For one thing, it means changing the way we think about religion — something many still refuse to take seriously, insisting it is a private matter for the individual.

We often assume that if a religious person has to choose between pursuing religious ideals and political ideals, they will choose the political — and always endorse secular norms.

But this betrays a failure to understand religion. Believers often place the highest stakes on obeying their God’s law — an event when the religious and the political come into conflict.

When that happens, given the eternal nature of the believer’s relationship with God, it should not be a surprise to find that religious demands almost always take precedence over political ones.

Secular liberals refuse to take such beliefs seriously because they have long since lost the ability to distinguish between the sacred and the secular. Their response is to denounce all religion.

But simply denouncing religion — especially extremist Islam — will not work, even though religion may at times make unreasonable or even outrageous claims.

When believers are committed to the precepts of a religion, it is not enough to say they are all hopelessly misguided. What committed believer will agree with that?

Instead, unreasonable religious claims must be challenged on religious — not secular — grounds. The freedom openly to discuss religion, engaging support of community leaders is also essential.

Confronting religious violence requires an unfailing commitment to defending the principles of an open, liberal society. But we must learn to take religion seriously — just as believers do already.

Peter Kurti is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies and author of the research paper Terror in the Name of God: Confronting acts of religious violence in a liberal society released this week.

Scotland secession dreams smashed

Charles Jacobs

16 June 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

CJ Scottish referendumNicola Sturgeon’s mandate for a second Scottish independence referendum has been shattered following the political earthquake of last week’s UK election. The Scottish National Party lost a third of their representation in Westminster and with it any realistic chance of pushing for another vote anytime in the near future.

This is a slap-down for the nationalists, who until now have relished the opportunity presented by the uncertainty of Brexit to argue the case for Indyref2. Sturgeon would’ve been hoping to use last Thursday’s vote to consolidate SNP gains at the 2015 election and capitalise on the backlash against Theresa May’s government.

The results in Scotland were a complete contrast from the remainder of Britain, with the Tories emerging victorious in 13 constituencies — 12 more than 2015 — their best result since the 1980s. It continues a noticeable trend, with the Conservatives also doubling their seats at the 2016 Scottish Parliament Election.

Following the election, Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged independence was ‘undoubtedly’ a factor in the decline of support for the SNP. Her colleague Stewart Hosie, Deputy Leader of the SNP at Westminster, suggested the possibility of a second referendum mobilised the Unionist vote in Scotland.

A week later the repercussions of the vote are already being felt. The SNP is scrambling to replace House of Commons leader Angus Robertson, who lost his seat during last Thursday’s chaos. Meanwhile, the funding page campaigning for a referendum in 2018 has been taken down.

What does this mean for the SNP? The prospect of another independence vote in the near future is certainly off the cards. Nicola Sturgeon will have some thinking to do as she seeks to appease an electorate that is clearly questioning the merit of more political upheaval in this time of great uncertainty.

Think instead of groupthink

16 June 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

TP multiculturalism 1Inconsistent, irrational, illogical, downright silly — and often with disastrous consequences. That just about sums up almost every idea being slavishly adopted by today’s youth. When did we forget that maybe we should try ‘think’ rather than flow with populist rhetoric?

Multiculturalism is just one example of another cult-like idea championed by almost all young people across Western schools and universities around the world. Yet how many of those youth know what multiculturalism truly is in reality? Those who have seen the true results will know — Yugoslavia, Lebanon and Sri Lanka are perfect examples.

Yet its advocates maintain that diversity and equality of cultures is the quintessential nature of multiculturalism. But when was modern Western culture — which is so often the focus of hate from its own youth — not diverse?

Like most other cultures, we have borrowed aspects from others because that culture is more effective and efficient at performing a certain task. Take paper (Chinese), numbers (Arabic) or the thousands of foreign-sourced words in the English language (myriad countries).

That is why cultures evolved and developed throughout the centuries: because they interacted and learnt from each other. Western civilisation is not so strictly white and discriminatory as many multiculturalists claim — it is made of influences from at least 100 cultures.

Of course there is never a case for discrimination. But there is no logical case to give other cultures priority over our own Western culture. If there were, we may as well revive Roman culture, Ottoman culture … even Canaan culture.

There is always a clear distinction between what sounds good and what actually does good. Sadly this is ignored by the fad followers, who — with their feeling of moral superiority as they ‘save’ the masses — disregard reason and logic.

Tony Peng is a Year 10 student at James Ruse High School, who undertook work experience at the Centre for Independent Studies.