I’m in the final year of my PhD. It’s been a long tertiary education road, tempered by less educational pursuits such as practising law and writing a silly memoir. And it all started down the road from my parents’ house at Macquarie University.
I wasn’t exactly an activist sort of undergraduate student. I found the earnestness of revolutionary leftwing students rather silly and in many cases hypocritical. How could they support socialism and communism after what these forces did to the Afghans during the 1980’s?
Yes, I wasn’t very fond of the United States in many things, but it was a case of the lesser of two evils. When it came to the Cold War inside my brain, America always trumped the Soviets and China. And Nicaragua and North Korea. And those silly campus lefties.
It made sense that in my second last year, I would end up joining my Liberal Club, contributing to their publication Liberal University Students’ Tabloid (LUST) and eventually joining the Liberal Party.
Throughout this time, it never occurred to me to study Western Civilisation as a course. If a degree on Western Civilisation was ever offered, there is no way in the world I would have abandoned my accounting and law degrees to study such unemployable nonsense. I’d expect my leftwing opponents to waste years of their pathetic lives studying this tosh as part of their 10-year-long Arts degrees, sponsored by their super-wealthy parents.
Most people in the Liberal Club were like me. They were interested in politics, but their kind of politics involved getting experience working in the private sector. Preferably in a major accounting or law firm or in a merchant bank. We Liberal students were too busy worrying about making lots of money.
Gosh, how times have changed. I’m no longer a Liberal student. I’d rather write for Crikey or AMUST than LUST. Politically speaking, I’m left right out.
But now I’m seeing this madness of conservative Liberal Party MP’s and Liberal students jumping up and down about some Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation wanting to establish a degree on western civilisation. The degree course, accounting to my old buddy Tony Abbott (he donated $10,000 to my election campaign in 2001!) is about proving western civilisation is better.
Better than what? 60,000 years of indigenous Australian civilisation? Judeo-Islamic civilisation in Andalusia? Over 5,000 years of Chinese civilisation? The civilisation of my ancestors in the Sub-Continent?
And how can we understand civilisations without understanding the other civilisations they plagiarised from? What is it that makes western civilisation so western? Is it experimental science that was plagiarised from the Arabs? Was it mathematics taken from the Indians via the Arabs? Was it ideas about warfare taken from the Chinese?
And what about Islamic civilisation? Can we claim domes on mosques to be our own? Or will we admit our early architects copied them from Byzantine Churches?
Who knows? What cares? I doubt many Liberal students would. They certainly didn’t in my time.