September 07, 2005 | Graham

Evil triumphs

Helen Pringle explores the provenance, and some more, of words attributed to Voltaire in this article. He was alleged to have said, but never did, that he would defend a man’s right to say something to the death, even if he didn’t agree with it.
Another phrase that is attributed to a famous 18th Century figure, but again without the provenance being proven is “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. Those words are attributed to Edmund Burke and have run riot across the Internet. The first time that I came across them was on the letterhead of Jim Killen, then Member for Moreton. I suspect that this is one of the few times that Jim has actually been ahead of the times, and I took them to heart.
Pity that the moderates in the New South Wales Liberal Party haven’t. John Brogden probably had a range of reasons for stepping down, but none of them should have been that if he didn’t the Right would have made his position untenable. Yet this is being suggested as one of his reasons.
When I joined the Queensland Liberal Party it was a subset of middle Australia. It isn’t anymore. The right moved in along with a curious asymmetry. Santo Santoro and his acolytes were prepared to do all sorts of things that moderates wouldn’t, such as identifying their enemy and turning up to meetings in numbers and voting to support their friends. The people I was friendly with too frequently found that doing attractive social things was more important than standing up for principles. As things turned unpleasant, they left. Or worse, they sniped from the sidelines and complained about branch stacking and other attrocities, rather than signing their friends up.
The same process appears to be happening in New South Wales with moderates like Joe Hockey resorting to the media to launch their missiles at David Clarke, the NSW Santoro equivalent.
Politics isn’t just a battle of ideas. To determine who wins you have to count the bodies – that’s what majorities are about. Those of us in the middle have no right to complain unless we are prepared to get involved.

Posted by Graham at 9:57 pm | Comments Off on Evil triumphs |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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