One of the things you might reasonably expect would also be left behind, was the ingrained snobbery of the old country, with all its manufactured excuses for one class to look down on another. The last thing I would have expected was to see it replicated, however unwittingly, on a blog but, a few weeks ago, this post appeared at catallaxy. I had one of those "oh for crying out loud" moments but, apart for a little too much off-line bitching about the author of the post, I decided not to make too much of it.
A little later, I found Rafe Champion's paper on Bill Hutt (PDF) at the HR Nicholls society site, where that Lion and the Ostrich post turned up again, this time as an appendix to Rafe's exposition of eight myths of trade unionism. Once again, I ignored it - what was it to me if the impartial seekers after truth at that august society were having a few giggles at the idea of English slum-dwellers of the 1930s doing wee-wees and poo-poos in cupboard drawers? I decided, again that it wasn't worth writing about.
This week, it turned up once again, at catallaxy, where Rafe presented his Hutt paper once more, in instalments, with this introduction to the first episode:
The capitulation of Kim Beazley to the unions on the issue of work contracts has ensured that industrial relations will be a live issue for some months to come. We are likely to hear endless repetition of a number of myths about the role of the trade unions and it may be helpful to have an alternative point of view for balance.This differs a little from the introduction he gave it in his presentation at the HR Nicholls society:
Question: How long will it take us to get to a labour market regime based on freedom?Both introductions convey the impression that Rafe's paper on Hutt is intended to have some bearing on the Australian situation, but Rafe assures us that this is not so. He wishes to be considered a non-combatant in the political, or ideological, battle over that subject. I'll return to Rafe's wish later.
Answer. Some time after Bill Hutt becomes a household name among people who are interested in industrial relations
The centralized system of wage fixing in Australia was designed to replace the “rude and barbarous” situation in the nineteenth century with a “new province for law and order”. This expectation was based on a number of assumptions about the nature of the economic system that evolved in the Industrial Revolution and the place of the workers and their associations in that system.
It's sobering to realise, that even a mere ten years in a slum environment can leave you with a chip on your shoulder big enough that you are angered even by accidental, and no doubt unintended, disparagement of slum-dwellers thousands of miles away and decades ago. And clearly it's unreasonable, and bespeaks the existence of a few ishooze, to be angered when a historical consensus that largely agrees with your own family history, is questioned in a spirit of free and open intellectual inquiry. Over the past couple of days my on-line persona has become decidedly unpleasant, so it's time to take another break.
So, as far as I'm concerned, Rafe is welcome to his non-combatant status. I'd suggest that if he wishes to keep it, he needs to refrain from a few activities, such as:
- Posting reading lists for other bloggers;
- Decrying the failure of post-modernists (whoever they are) to engage with critical rationalism, the failure of trade union ideologues to engage with the ideas of WH Hutt - non-combatants do not seek engagement with anybody;
- Decrying the shoddy and dishonest scholarship of TEH LEFT - non-combatants do not concern themselves with the relative merits of the contending forces;
- Decrying TEH LEFT as slaves to a false paradigm - neither do non-combatants concern themselves with the merits of the combatant's strategies.