Beyond the selfish election


David Hume on Is and OughtThe language of ethics can sometimes sound as arcane as the results of elections are confusing.

One of the sharpest questions for Catholic ethical frameworks, for example, is whether an 'is' can generate an 'ought'. In other words, is it legitimate to argue from a study of the nature of human beings and of the world to the ways in which human beings should behave? For example, may we conclude from the sexual and gender differentiation between women and men and the part that this plays in child rearing that marriage ought to be a stable relationship between a man and a woman?

In the Catholic moral tradition this kind of argumentation is generally accepted. Some other moral traditions claim that it is invalid, and that ethics must proceed differently.

I shall leave that question for the ethicists. But the election campaign and its results also raised sharp questions about the relationship between 'ises' and 'oughts' in the political sphere. They made it clear how fragmented is the political reality of Australia, and how those who orchestrated the campaigns simply worked within the confines of that fragmentation, and indeed jemmied the fault lines further apart.

The 'is' of political life revealed in the campaign was of one in which voters were generally self-engrossed, considering their own interests without any sense of the common good. Australia also appeared to be an abstraction. Quite different groups of voters in different states, and in different regions of the state, were each dominated by their own interests and resentments. As a result any campaign that presupposed a uniform Australia and a set of broad Australian goals seemed bound to fail.

As a result the pitch of both major parties addressed the reality of fragmentation. They played to strong local desires and resentments, focused on the attitudes of people in seats that were in play, ignored statements of vision or of general principle, and reduced leadership to the leaders' fellow feeling with whoever they were visiting. Any distinctively national policies were negative — against boat people and the unemployed.

This was understandable, because different groups share resentments, and can be united in directing them against the marginalised who are different from themselves. It was ironic justice that the result of the election marginalised both parties.

The presence of so many political agents in the parties and the focus on instant news by the media ensure that this 'is' of fragmentation and of focus on self-interest will continue. The criterion of policies and actions in public life will be whether a party will be successful at the next election.

We may ask therefore whether such an 'is' can ever generate 'oughts'. Can we expect ever again to see political parties, so led and with such a mindset, to reflect on the future of Australia, on what kind of society they ought to promote, and on how they should prepare for the coming realities of climate change and of increasing disparities of wealth and life chances? It seems unlikely that the current reality of political life will encourage such reflectiveness, let alone the adoption of national policies that incur local unpopularity.

That makes it important to ask whether there is a deeper 'is' in Australian society than that revealed in election campaigns. Examples of this reality might include the quality of relationships between people, their deeper desires for themselves and for their families and neighbourhood, the solidarity between people in their work places, the altruism that makes them give to appeals for victims of hurricanes and floods, the ordinary respect that people show others in need or on public transport.

These would make up a set of implicit commitments to Australian society that escape the analysis of fragmentation and individual self-interest. If strongly felt, this 'is' might generate a generally accepted 'ought' that would express itself in a richer vision of Australian society and a desire for strategies to realise it.

Any good future for Australian public life depends on the recognition of this deeper 'is'. But its recognition will depend on the energy and ability of the people and groups who take a deeply moral view of Australian society to articulate and commend it attractively.

The churches, with their long tradition of recognising the deeper values in human beings and in society, can play an important part in this. But they will need to work cooperatively with other groups who also decry the narrow and self-interested focus in Australian politics. That will be a challenge. To find common cause with people whose ethical view is grounded and expressed differently is not something that churches have found easy to do.

A postscript. At the polling booths I passed on Saturday, the youngest and most energetic of the party volunteers seemed to belong to the Greens. Some were Catholics who joined the Greens precisely because the party commended an ethically serious account of Australian reality.

That account differs in its detail from the Catholic vision. But if the Australian Catholic Church is to help commend the deeper 'is' of Australian public life, and so commend more ethical practice, it can hardly do so without recognising the Greens, for all its disagreement with many of their policies, as partners in this large task.

If the Catholic Church demonises the Greens, it will see itself used by hard political operators to entrench a narrow and self-centred view of Australian life.

Andrew HamiltonAndrew Hamilton is the consulting editor for Eureka Street. He teaches at the United Faculty of Theology in Melbourne.

Topic tags: Andrew Hamilton, Labor, Green, Liberal, election 2010, gillard, abbott, prime minister, ethics, is, ought



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Existing comments

Thanks Andrew,

You've got to get over your issues with the Greens.

The Liberals are far too nasty to be allowed near the Treasury benches, and will remain such for so long as they choose to be lead by any of the nastier members of Howard's Cabinet (Abbott, Andrews, Ruddock; thank the Lord that Downer's at least departed the Parliament).

Meanwhile, ALP is so cynical as to be rendered incompetent.

David Arthur | 27 August 2010  

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In Australia politicians 'is' absolutely corrupt and so is the police. And nobody wants to rock the boat oand upset the status quo because they 'is' scared of Big Brother with the big stick.

The Adversarial Justice System is based on who can tell the best lies. That is where the problems start and finish That is reality. We are divided and we are conquered and the division continues. Join the victims of injustice at Newcastle on the 7th April 2011 and be a part of an inclusive movement.

Greig Williams | 27 August 2010  

Well done. Your voice of balance, reason and real substance throughout this sad campaign has been heartening. i have been tempted to take out New Zealand citizenship in recent weeks. At least then i could support the All Blacks.

I have tried to write a challenging lead for Viewpoint this week about the lack of real leadership and vision and the challenges our Jesuit schools face in being counter-cultural and producing leaders who stand for something.
Shane Hogan

Shane Hogan | 27 August 2010  

Definitely, we have to move from self interested politics that panders to the lowest common denominator and think of the whole. Catholic values are human values - as Catholics we can't impose restrictive laws on people who have different values. Our job is to negotiate and work with all groups for the best outcome for all.

Greg Kennedy | 27 August 2010  

Andrew's thought-provoking article raises the question of how to balance self-interest with the overall public good.
Historically, the domination of the rich and powerful provoked the growth of trade unions and Labo(u)r parties -and reform.

But recently we have gone backwards with the accumulation of enormous wealth - and power - of corporate chiefs -alongside poverty and homelessness, even in Australia. Once condemned as a cardinal sin, greed is now revered as a motivating force for 'progress'.

This forces self-interest among workers
and their families rather than cooperation and concern for a good balance.

Bob Corcoran | 27 August 2010  

Andrew: A good positive reflection on the recent election and popular motivations. There has of course been widespread debate about the ethics and morality of contesting political groups.

In trying to evaluate society's 'goods' involved, I have found that Thomas Aquinas was not only a great 'churchman' but he was a rather insightful citizen. When it came to his discussion of virtues, he proposed that natural society was governed by the 'common ground' values of Justice, Temperance, Prudence and Fortitude and, Believers were also guided by the 'theo-logal' (Godly) virtues of faith, hope and love. In a stroke of farsighted genius Thomas offered a positive meeting ground for citizen and believing citizen alike. Worth considering.
David Timbs

David Timbs ALBION. VIC. | 27 August 2010  

Andrew, your late Jesuit confrere, Juan Luis Segundo, reckoned the anthropological "is" of life was our faith - we all wager on the worthwhile; it is a given, no exceptions. And there is no ultimate verification (collected dividend) until we have run our race, political or otherwise.

If our wager allows an after-life verification, it will sound something like this - what we wagered on is now seen as what was or was not the "ought" of life.

Appreciate your many "eureka" contributions.

Noel McMaster | 27 August 2010  

Andrew is worried about the Catholic Church demonising the Greens so I consulted the dictionary.

Demonization is defined as:
condemnation, disapprobation - an expression of strong disapproval; pronouncing as wrong or morally culpable.
Now does Andrew want the Catholic Church to applaud The Greens for being: pro abortion, pro voluntary euthanasia, pro gay marriage and against Catholic and other private schools receive government funding? I would argue that the Catholic Church has to condemn the Greens on many of their policies.

catherine | 27 August 2010  

Catherine, I think the point that Andrew was making was that while we might disagree with some of the policies of the Greens, we nevertheless need to find ways of working with them on those issues where we agree with them. Not to do so is to 'demonise' them, that is to consider them wholly bad.

Trevor | 27 August 2010  

Thank you for this helpful and well reasoned argument. Surely a vital test as to whether a government is performing well is the way it treats vulnerable members of the national and global communities. A minority government whose existence depends on thoughtful and responsible independents could not only work but also pass this test simply by making adequate food and housing and good education and health services available for all its fundamental policy.

David Pearson | 27 August 2010  

Brava, Catherine!

One of the most disquieting 'ises' of Australian politics is the unrelenting war of the Green Party against unborn Australians. Whatever merit there might be in some of their policies, the Greens' intention to open up additional opportunities to kill innocent human beings totally disqualifies them from the expectation of receiving co-operation from Catholics or indeed from anybody with a commitment to human rights and a sense of pity for the vulnerable.

Catholics and other Germans 'ought' not have assisted the tyrannical Nazi Party into power in the early 1930s even if it did, for example, solve unemployment and build some nice autobahns. Father Brennan's pre-election disruption of the attempt of Cardinal Pell to provide ethical guidance about the Green Party's agenda to his flock in the Archdiocese of Sydney was shameful.

Sylvester | 27 August 2010  

Where then Sylvester would you place the Coalition whose last government deliberately went to wage war on Iraq, knowing that it would result in the deaths of thousands of innocent people, using as justification the un-proven assertion that Iraq was about to use WMDs?

'Whatever merit there might be in some of their (the Coalition's) policies', would you agree that their decision to 'kill innocent human beings totally disqualifies them from the expectation of receiving co-operation from Catholics or indeed from anybody with a commitment to human rights and a sense of pity for the vulnerable'?

Sylvester, I grew up in an Australia where Catholic and Protestant children were taught from an early age to demonise each other, such that as adults they could not cooperate even in the provision of health care and medical insurance. I don't want to go back to that sort of endemic hate. For Christ's sake (and I use the phrase reverently), please show a bit of grace!

Trevor | 27 August 2010  

I welcome the diversification of voices and feel we benefit from debate and grass-roots democracy.Liberal and Labour need to value these challenges and allow new ways of thinking,if we are ever to become a clever country.The Catholic Church should not be afraid of open dialogue.Social justice is forever at the heart of Christian life,and we don't see refugees or indigenous people highlighted as urgent today.

The Greens may be pro-abortion,and pro-euthanasia,yet,is it more offensive to have anti-refugee policies and indifference to high mortality and chronic neglect of our indigenous people as the major parties have shown.This is anti-'life' and the church makes little noise or protest.

Catherine S | 27 August 2010  

May I naughtily paraphrase Father Andrew's observation thus?: "The youngest and most energetic of the party volunteers seemed to belong to the Nazis. Some were Catholics who joined the Nazis precisely because the party commended an ethically serious view of German reality" (Berlin 1933).

While Father Andrew might appear to have a "Black Belt in Keeping it Real", I suggest that the Greens grip on morality and reality weakens when it comes to the value of human life.

Claude Rigney | 27 August 2010  

The preoccupation of some Catholics with a single bit of the Greens' policies - abortion -ignores the Greens' compassionate efforts for fairer and richer lives for all. Such will lead to fewer situations where abortion seems to be the only solution.

Re Catherine's other point of money for education: the Greens believe that government schools should be adequately funded (as should all schools).

Geoff | 27 August 2010  

I appreciate the lively responses to my article, many of which understandably turned on my application of its conclusions to the Greens. A couple of comments:

I think 'demonisation' implies more than strong disapprobation. It also suggests that the level of disapprobation or condemnation is excessive - we would hardly speak of demonising Satan! Its excessiveness arises from its being based on a wrong or partial understanding of the reality that is demonised. Furthermore, 'demonisation' usually implies that more malign power is being given to the reality demonised than it possesses. The result of demonising therefore is to a withdrawal from conversation and engagement with those demonised.

In the case of the Greens, I agree with many of my correspondents that many of their policies are wrong. But their focus on our duty to do all we can to pass on a liveable world to our descendants, and their interest in the larger questions of what matters in Australia are right. In that respect they cannot be regarded simply as opponents, but also as partners. They are human beings who have some illuminating insights into what it means to be human, as well as some pretty crook ideas as well. Like me.

I enjoyed Claude's 'naughty' comparison. Such things are the stuff of good conversation, and the comparison with Nazi Germany does make one pause. But perhaps a comparison becomes naughty only when it urges an attitude that the reality to which it appeals does not support.

In the case of National Socialism, I see a centralised and authoritarian leadership, an ideology that controlled the details of policy, and a demand that adherents yield their consciences to the Party. All of that would prevent me, at least in safe retrospect, from proposing conversation or engengagement with them, despite the presence of energetic young people among them.

I do not see thee qualities in the Greens. There is a mixture of altruism and narrow focus on individual rights in their policies, their way of proceeding seems to be communitarian rather than authoritarian, and they generally seem to support the primacy of informed conscience. So there is the basis for critical association in pressing for a better Australia.

Andy Hamilton | 28 August 2010  

What does it mean for the Australian Catholic Church to 'recognize' the Greens? This is fuzzy language.

The Church should 'recognize' that the Greens are anti-life in several important respects: that they don't mind over 80,000 innocent Australians being killed each year-in fact they think it's ethically laudable. No Catholic can support these entrenched policies, but is morally obliged to vigorously oppose them.

"But", it will be said, "the Greens are pro-environment." Catholics are bound to be "pro-environment" too - stewards of God's creation (including unborn humans). But are Catholics bound to agree with the Greens' specific environmental policies? Of course not. No Catholic is bound to believe that global warming is occurring, or that if it is, it's significantly caused by humans, or that Greens' remedies such as shutting down our coal stations and taxing carbon will have more good effects than bad, or that Greens policies on forests are correct. And so on.

In sum, the Greens policies violate Catholic/natural law principles in some areas and, but for the most general level of motherhood statements,("care for the environment!") aren't necessarily Catholic in others. The Catholic Church in Australia is obliged to make these points in its "recognition" of the Greens. Or have I missed something ?

HH | 28 August 2010  

Disagree with this entirely. As a second year university student, I have no confidence whatsoever in young people from all sides of politics, particularly the Greens. The Greens were originally a party which was largely open to people of all political creeds, but have been subverted at a grassroots level by neo-marxists who see the party as a good vessel for 'progressive politics'. They steal Catholic ideas and concepts, but they are overwhelmingly godless in their vision of society.

You shouldn't be fooled by people who use the word 'justice' - they have a very different concept of what is 'just'. The idea that humans fundamentally know what is just is a total lie. There are prominent members of the Greens who advocate utilitarian ethical doctrines which run completely contrary to everything we stand for as Catholics.

Instead of giving this sort of warped half support of any Australian political party, as Catholics it is our duty to call them all out for what they are - godless, growth obsessed and blindly capitalist parties who couldnt care less about the welfare of the citizenry.

John Watson | 29 August 2010  

Trevor, I take your point about Iraq but, if anything, it buttresses opposition to the pro-death stance of the Green Party. Life is a seamless garment, whether it clothes ordinary people turned into 'collateral damage' in Iraq or unborn children being slaughtered in Australia at the rate of up to 100,000 a year.

Geoff, your remark that the pro-abortion policy of the Greens is 'a single bit' within their overall platform overlooks the fact that this 'bit' is a diabolical attack on the most fundamental right of all human beings, the right to live, without which all other rights are meaningless. The Green's 'compassionate efforts for richer and fairer lives for all' is a mockery because, in reality, it excludes a certain class of people, ie., the unborn.

Similarly - Andrew - I do not see how getting rid of people who just happen to find themselves in the earliest phases of human development can be seen as part of 'pressing for a better Australia'.

Groups other than the Greens are concerned about Australian foreign policy decisions, the environment, etc., but are not fatally compromised by the pro-death position of the Green Party. Let Catholics co-operate with those groups and shun the Greens.

The Green Part is fatally - pardon the pun - compromised by its anti-life philosophy, supplied by Peter Singer, which denies life to the unborn and which has, lurking in the background, infanticide (a logical corollary of abortion) as well as the euthanasia of the frail elderly and sick and the eugenic elimination of the disabled and handicapped.

We have seen it all before. In the 1920s the German Catholic hierarchy maintained a ban on Catholic membership of the National Socialist Party. Regrettably, this ban was lifted in the early 1930s when there was an electoral surge of the Nazis. The bishops thought they could moderate the NSDAP by diluting it with Catholic members. Let us not make the same mistake in Australia today.

Sylvester | 29 August 2010  

Such terms cannot but conjure up the idea that the Greens are somehow violent destructionists, which is a lurid misrepresentation. Perhaps I might touch on just one of the points of concern. The Greens do wish to afford women the right to determine their reproductive circumstances and this means pregnancy termination/abortion services would be made available without legal sanctions. It does not mean abortion would be made compulsory! Though Catholic teaching says abortion is intrinsically wrong and is popularly characterised by those who agree as equivalent to murder, it is not regarded as such by many people from many backgrounds. The principal reason why many people don’t condemn abortion is because they don’t regard - and remain unconvinced by argument to the contrary - the unviable embryo is morally equivalent to a fully sentient, conscious viable infant, let alone a fully developed person. It seems a coherent position to consider that a full-term birth is nature’s way of letting us know that the unborn is ready, and not before. Ethics and morality are not simple things. In any case our understanding in this and many other bio-ethical questions is changing, limited, and influenced by an array of competing ethical considerations.

The Greens appear to have a comprehensive range of policies that I cannot see can be reduced to the simplistic charge that they promote death. Whilst anyone is perfectly entitled to hold a position that would prohibit all abortions, it is not reasonable to characterise everyone who disagrees with that position as evil.

Stephen Kellett | 29 August 2010  

Stephen Kellett - the Greens ARE 'violent destructionists' because that it whar abortion is, violent destruction.

The fact that the Greens are not proposing to make it compulsory is a non sequitur. Murder is not compulsory either but, nevertheless, it is illegal. In some countries, chiefly China, abortion IS compulsory and it cannot be ruled out that some future Australian government might move in this direction under Green influence as part of their population/environment stance. Abortion was compulsory for certain classes of people in Germany during the 1930s.

Abortion may not be seen as a class of murder by 'many people from many backgrounds' but it is so regarded by the Catholic Church which, therefore, is and must be implaccably opposed.

Human life is a contiunuum. A human being is not less human simply because s/he occupies a place of early development on the continuum. An embryo is less developed physiologically than a grown adult but it is still fully human consonant with its current stage of development.

Nobody is suggesting that Green people are evil - just that some of their policies are. Therefore, no Catholic may act to counter efforts to limit Green influence in Australian politics as Father Brennan did a few weeks ago.

Sylvester | 30 August 2010  

Thanks for clearing that up, Sylvester. I'm glad you don't think the Greens are themselves evil. Your distinctions are fair enough. The language we use affects the merit of our thought and the quality of discussion.

Stephen Kellett | 30 August 2010  

I note that in his weekly column in Sydney's Sunday Telagraph (Aug 29),Cardinal Pell has again slammed the Greens labelling them anti-religious schools,anti-jobs,anti-family and anti-human life.He added that a christian would have to be morally disoriented to vote for them.
As is usually the case,His Emminence is correct.

Peter | 30 August 2010  

Stephen Kellett, it's true that many Greens urge that the "unviable" does not possess the same rights as the "viable".

But one has to question their logical consistency on this point.

Actually, I think that's too charitable. It's more about their bona fides.

Take a new born human babe. On what description is it "viable" in the absence of outside support? We're not talking about insects here. From the point of view of sheer survival, the newborn homo sapiens is scarcely less dependent on its mother (or close substitutes) than it was immediately pre-birth. So why can't we terminate its life? (Peter Singer, a Greens guru, sees no objection.)

If you go the other way: "viability", understood as being able to sustain a life outside the womb by any means, is in the case of the "unborn" being pushed back every year. It's not inconceivable (pun intended) that, within a few decades, artificial wombs will be able to sustain the life of the conceptus all the way to birth. So every conceptus will be then, on some description, "viable". Do we hear the "viability" Greens rejoicing at these expanding boundaries and, in their trumpeted respect for living things, seek to wind back the window for permissible abortions accordingly? The answer is, sadly, obvious.

Greens will reject both infanticide (tentatively) and the defence of life from conception (forcefully) - the logical extensions of "viability" under hard and soft descriptions.

But only because both are too politically uncomfortable: it's sheer naivete at best to believe, as Fr Hamilton does, that in the Greens we're dealing with a seriously ethical, unselfish type of politician.

HH | 30 August 2010  

Sylvester, you may have taken my point but you avoided the question.

'Whatever merit there might be in some of their (the Coalition's) policies', would you agree that their decision to 'kill innocent human beings totally disqualifies them from the expectation of receiving co-operation from Catholics or indeed from anybody with a commitment to human rights and a sense of pity for the vulnerable'

The point I'm trying to make is that if you think the Greens are unsupportable, why don't you also condemn the Coalition, which, while in Government, actually initiated the war on Iraq and the killing that was inevitably and intrinsically part of that war.

If 'human life is a continuum', on what basis do you differentiate between the Greens and the Coalition?

Trevor | 31 August 2010  

Trevor: bearing in mind that some 80,000 innocent Australian unborn are intentionally slaughtered each year, can you document at least one case in which Australian troops have intentionally killed a known Iraqi civilian? Or - more importantly - a Coalition policy supportive of such an act?

Regardless of the merits of going to war with the hideous murderer Saddam - I oppose it - and cynical as I am, I've never seen good evidence that Australian soldiers have deliberately targeted known Iraqi civilians.

A failure to document such charges means your point against Sylvester collapses completely. Success would mean perhaps a reassessment of voting for the Coalition - depending on whether or not such murders were Coalition policy, or isolated soldiers acting against orders. But until the Greens alter their appalling policies against innocent life at home, they are completely off limits to Catholics on that ground alone.

HH | 31 August 2010  

Of course HH, civilian deaths are 'never deliberate' (especially when they our caused by our side), they are rather always 'regrettable collateral'.

But when one goes to war, civilian deaths are both predicable and inevitable (although we never seem to be able to count them) and are a direct result of the decision to go to war. The Coalition government made that decision knowing the outcome and must therefore bear the responsibility. It's not just the individual who pulls the trigger or throws the grenade.

And what about Tony Abbott who has said quite recently that he has no intention of seeking to change the law relating to abortion? Sins of omission? Where does that leave him in terms of being 'off limits' to Catholics?

Trevor | 31 August 2010  

Trevor, you need to look up the distinction between "forseeable" and "intended" in Catholic moral theology: in other words, the "doctrine of double effect". Otherwise you'll be unable to justify, for example, the Allies going to war against Hitler.

With regard to Tony Abbott: much as I regret those pathetic statements of his, as I hope you do, I refer you to the principles outlined in Evangelium Vitae. Mr Abbott is, relative to the other parties in this tussle, less likely to worsen the fate of the unborn compared to rival parties' policies or predictable decisions (especially those of the Greens). If anything, he is likely to improve their prospects for survival, given the status quo. Given that the Greens have an explicit agenda to expand the opportunities for extinguishing innocent human life, I think there is no option there for someone who is pro-life - Catholic or otherwise.

Moreover, as I said: even if Tony Abbott were on his statements not a legitimate option for Catholics, how could the Greens ever be? Don't fudge.

HH | 31 August 2010  

It is a sad thing that so many catholic respondents to Andrew's excellent piece are so obsessed on the issue of abortion to the exclusion of considering anything else in the Greens agenda. The Greens are pro-life in the very broadest sense of being of the drift of our behaviouir as a species towards the death of our planet as a habitable place.

It is not just human life that is to be considered but the incredible complexity of the life systems from single cellular forms to mammals, primates and mightly whales and so on. Jared Diamond has presented case studies of collapse of human societies on a small scale. We are facing a far grander collapse if the political will to face up to global warming, over-population of the human species and the loss of food production capacity through land degradation are not attended to.

Mike Foale | 31 August 2010  

Trevor - HH answers your question. I too opposed the Iraqi war. It has left Iraq a bloody mess and I fear for the future of that long-suffering country. However, civilian casualties in war, appalling though they are, are not in the same ethical category as abortion. The difference is intentionality, an important factor in assessing the moral quality of an act. The unintended killing of an innocent person is different from the intended killing of an innocent person.

Civilian deaths in war are usually (but not always!) an unintended by-product of military action but in abortion the victim is quite deliberately targeted. The result is the same - someone ends up dead - but the moral culpability of the agent is very different.

The Second Vatican Council condemned the direct waging of war on civilians as strongly as it condemned direct abortion - they are, in fact, the same kind of act.

As to Mr Abbot's statement that he does not propose to change the law relating to abortion. In a different, and better, world legislative action could be taken to restore the right to live of our pre-born Australian brothers and sisters but, presently, the position is quite impossible politically thanks to the spread of the culture of death through society, aided and abetted by the Green Party. All that can be done now is to hold what is left of the pro-life line in the hope of a more compassionate ethical climate in the future. A crucial strategy is to restrain as much as possible Green influence on Australian politics.

Sylvester | 01 September 2010  

Mike Foale, you cannot presume that anybody who makes pro-life statements must be Catholic. People of many faiths - and none - hold that the malice of abortion can be established on rational, philosophical and anthropological grounds alone, without reference to religious faith.

You also presume that if somebody is concerned about abortion they are not concerned about anything else. That does not follow. Our planet must be preserved in health, beauty, variety and utility so that it can continue to reflect the glory of the Creator and to sustain and delight the crown of creation, man, for whose sake the earth was created and to whom stewardship over it was given. There are many groups out there with an enviromental conscience that is disfigured by the Green's brutishness towards certain classes of human beings.

The Greens are "pro-life" in the same way that the Communists were (are?) pro-humanity - there was much theorising about humanity as an abstraction while millions of actual individual human beings were sent to their deaths.

Sylvester | 01 September 2010  

Whoops - the last sentence of my second paragraph should read, "There are many groups out there with an environmental conscience that is NOT disfigured by the Greens' brutishness towards certain classes of human beings."

Sylvester | 01 September 2010  

I'm so impressed by the civility and rigour of these comments!

I normally never read comments on online journalism, but I've read these to the bottom, and I just want to say congratulations to everybody on making such riveting, thoughtful and polite entries.

If I were an HSC english teacher I'd certainly be giving full marks!

May the 80,000 innocent babies who die each year in our country, and never get to experience the fantastic spring day that we had today - among all the other joys of life - rest in peace. (And of course all the innocent civilians killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all over the world.)

Jason | 01 September 2010  

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