The mystery of Titania McGrath

Titania McGrath is the name of a parody twitter account hosted by one Andrew Doyle, as discussed by me here at Quadrant Online: Titania McGrath, Meet George Orwell which is itself a discussion of an interview with Doyle. At one level, the account is just as it is described:

Titania, an imaginary amalgam of all the worst excesses in the modern social justice movement, fancies herself a voice for minorities of all kinds (whether they know they agree with her or not). What she lacks in self-awareness, she makes up for in conviction.

Doyle is therefore a man on the right making fun of people on the left. Well, not so fast. This, however, is how he describes himself.

I think if you were to write down all of my political views on various things I would come out more left-wing than right.

So he is then a man of the left who makes fun of people on the left who go too far. Maybe, but he also says this about himself as well.

I’d say I’m quite culturally conservative, however. I believe in high standards of education, because I think that adult autonomy depends on effective socialization in youth. So you need to have a rigorous school system, and children need to have an awareness of the classics and be taught the classics. I think art history, for instance, should be embedded at a primary-school level: not “let’s see what you can create with these paints”; I think you need to learn the classics. That’s a more traditionally right-wing viewpoint. I also believe in politeness, and decorum, and high standards and that kind of thing, which I think might be more associated with the Right.

There’s no “might be” about it. If that’s what you believe, then you are one of us and not one of them.

But then let me look at this, which is the example of a Titania tweet put up at QoL.

That is funny, but which side is Andrew Doyle actually on? It may well be that he believes that both are bad, that the point he is trying to make is that it is just as wrong for a baker not to bake the cake as it is to prevent children from learning about gay rights. The tweet may really be saying, a plague on both your houses.

But no matter how you slice it, Titania is a creation of genius. So perhaps we should just take his final advice:

I think the Left and Right should agree on the basic liberal principles of free expression, free discourse, and free thought. But also we need a shared social contract of how we address each other and how we tackle these issues. It doesn’t work if one side of the debate is just screaming and covering their ears. Nothing can be achieved that way.

I’m all in with that, but how realistic is it? In regard to the screaming and covering of ears, let me draw your attention to this post put up today: REBELLION IN THE KNITTING COMMUNITY. It’s about a woman who in the past had associated with Democrats only but went to a Trump rally the other day in New Hampshire. First there is what she was told by before she went:

In chatting with the folks at the [MSNBC] taping, I casually said that I was thinking about going over to the Trump rally. The first reaction they had was a genuine fear for my safety. I had never seen people I didn’t know so passionately urge me to avoid all those people. One woman told me that those people were the lowest of the low. Another man told me that he had gone to one of Trump’s rallies in the past and had been the target of harassment by large muscle-bound men. Another woman offered me her pepper spray. I assured them all that I thought I would be fine and that I would get the heck out of dodge if I got nervous.

A kind of over-the-top Titania-like reaction. But then she went along to the rally and found this:

As I waited, I chatted with the folks around me. And contrary to all the fears expressed, they were so nice. I was not harassed or intimidated, and I was never in fear of my safety even for a moment. These were average, everyday people. They were veterans, schoolteachers, and small business owners who had come from all over the place for the thrill of attending this rally. They were upbeat and excited. In chatting, I even let it slip that I was a Democrat. The reaction: “Good for you! Welcome!”

“The right” are just normal people. It is the left who are doing the screaming and covering their ears. Doyle knows that as well as anyone. Seriously, which side is he really on? Surely he is not really, as he describes himself, more left-wing than right.

It’s funny, but who’s laughing at whom?

I have an article up at Quadrant Online today: Titania McGrath, Meet George Orwell which is at one level about how the left seems to know nothing about the conservative right. It’s based on a quite fascinating interview with the creator of one of the great creations of the twitter universe: Titania McGrath. She is an invention of a comedian by name of Andrew Doyle. Andrew wants the left and the right to get on with each other. He therefore made up Titania as a super-woke rich female activist who goes around tweeting as a parody of the way certain SJWs behave. Here is the example put up at QoL.

That is funny, but which side is Andrew Doyle actually on. After reading the interview it may even be, to take the above example, that he believes that both are bad, that the point he is trying to make is that it is just as wrong for a baker not to bake the cake as it is to prevent children from learning about gay rights. He may not be siding with us at all. The tweet may really be saying, a plague on both your houses.

My central question after reading the interview was therefore this: does he know that just about everyone on the right has the same beliefs as he does, or does he think he is making fun of people on our side and is laughing at the right because we don’t get the joke. I found this a puzzling quote from the interview given what else he had said:

I think the Left and Right should agree on the basic liberal principles of free expression, free discourse, and free thought. But also we need a shared social contract of how we address each other and how we tackle these issues. It doesn’t work if one side of the debate is just screaming and covering their ears. Nothing can be achieved that way.

The puzzle I was left with at the end of reading the article was whether Andrew Doyle believes that it is the conservative side of politics that is guilty of preventing this dialogue from happening because of what he sees as our own obtuse beliefs. It is hard to tell, but it is possible that he believes that it is the left that represents “the basic liberal principles of free expression, free discourse, and free thought”. How else to mesh that with this:

“I think if you were to write down all of my political views on various things I would come out more left-wing than right.”

As for birthday cakes, the issue is not that no such cakes should be baked, but that no one should be forced to bake such a cake by government. Doyle is undoubtedly funny, but it is hard to say who he is laughing at. Given what he writes, I am not at all sure he is laughing at his comrades on the left.

The persistent failure of economic theory

I see the RBA today froze at the thought of raising rates in the midst of an economy as stone cold dead as this one. They are, of course, clueless about why this is, just as Treasury is equally clueless. So let me take you to my article just published at Quadrant on The Dangerous Persistence of Keynesian Economics. Here’s how it starts.

OUTSIDE the United States, no economy has fully recovered from the downturn that followed the Global Financial Crisis in 2008-09. The crisis came and went in half a year, but just about every economy continues to have problems generating growth, increasing employment and raising real incomes. As I was writing my article on “The Dangerous Return to Keynesian Economics” in 2009, I commenced working on an economic textbook, now in its third edition, to explain why modern macroeconomic theory is utterly useless, why no one using these economic models as a guide to policy would ever succeed. And here we are, ten years later, and everything discussed in that earlier article, explained in far more detail in my text, has come to pass.


Just as the causes of this downturn cannot be charted through a Keynesian demand deficiency model, neither can the solution. The world’s economies are not suffering from a lack of demand and the right policy response is not a demand stimulus. Increased public sector spending will only add to the market confusions that already exist.
What is potentially catastrophic would be to try to spend our way to recovery. The recession that will follow will be deep, prolonged and potentially take years to overcome.
—Steven Kates, Quadrant, March 2009


Why have the IMF, the OECD, the ILO, the treasuries of every advanced economy, the Treasury in Australia, the business economists around the world, why have they got it so wrong and yet you in your ivory tower at RMIT have got it so right?
—Question to Steven Kates from Senator Doug Cameron, Senate Economic References Committee, September 21, 2009


Why did I get it so right? Because nearly everyone else thinks economies are made to grow through increases in demand, while in reality, as was once universally understood, economies can only be made to grow through improvements in supply-side conditions. Demand has absolutely nothing to do with making an economy grow. Demand of course is crucial to how many units of any particular good or service will sell, but has nothing whatsoever to do with how fast an economy in total will grow, or how many workers will be employed.

Does being right count for anything? Not a bit. Still, you can go back to my original article from ten years ago, The Dangerous Return to Keynesian Economics, and see how well what I said then stacks up with how things now are.

Let me add that if you are not already a subscriber, you should be. Subscribe here.

The secret of eloquence lies in a care for detail

A tip off from Tim Blair, there is an exquisite article at Quadrant by Clive James: Les Murray and the Purpose of Poetry. Read it all, but marvel at this first:

After Gough Whitlam personally instituted the idea of educating the working class—here I borrow the dearest historical belief of the unintelligent intelligentsia—there were suddenly more intellectuals than you could shake a stick at. Unfortunately, far from their inheriting the country’s traditional scepticism, there was almost no fad that they wouldn’t fall for. The result has been the near-ruination of Australian prose. There are always a few hold-outs, but when you look at the collected writings of the late Christopher Pearson, for example, the most startling impression is not of how he shines, but of how he shines almost alone, like a single candle in one of his beloved cathedrals.

Perhaps the tip-off lies in the fact that his posthumous collection of writings, A Better Class of Sunset, is not very carefully edited. It seems to have had several editors all working at once, and none of them to sufficient purpose: in which, perhaps, lies the trouble. The literary world works best when some of the editors could have been writers too, but preferred to guard a publication, giving it the care and energy that might have put their own name in a public light.

Just as the basis of ethics lies in manners, the secret of eloquence lies in a care for detail. The alternative is the ever-spreading swamp of the blog-trolls, in which the opinions of a frothing dolt are so important that no paragraph can last longer than a sentence. Or else he raves on forever without a break: either way, he has no sense whatever of nuanced argument. Nor can he pause to put in the capital letters, the commas and the apostrophes, not to mention the good humour, the sense of proportion and the common courtesy. Cram all that negligence into the frame of Facebook and you have mental cyanide in pellet form. I hate to say it, but of all the countries in the Anglosphere, it seems to me that Australia is the most likely to be the first victim of a web-world and social media coalition that annihilates the hard-won virtues of English prose. If you dread a culture in which every twit’s tweet counts, here it comes.

All this might sound like the carping of an old man on his way out, but I did find it remarkable, as I came back to Australia more and more often in the middle of my life, that the books of expository prose tailed off in quality from year to year. Not every woman writer will ever be able to write like Helen Garner, just as not every male politician will be able to write like Diamond Jim McClelland. But you would have expected the supply of stylists to go up, not down. Born and brought up at a time when such a poet-journalist as Elizabeth Riddell was still active in the Australian media, I never imagined that the female journalists of Australia could have listened to Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech and not laughed her from the stage.

And was there even a single red-blooded Aussie media man to greet President Obama’s remarks about Australia’s alleged neglect of the climate change threat to the Barrier Reef by telling him, in a single well-shaped paragraph, that the Reef was well looked after and that if he really thought he knew anything about it he was always welcome to take a paddle around a piece of it, barefoot and without a guide, or else, failing that, to bugger off? But no: scarcely a peep. The days when the Australian newspapers and periodicals had plenty of hard-nosed jobbing writers to deal not only with the bullshit manufactured at home, but with the incoming bullshit from abroad, seem long gone. By now, the next wave of literary journalists is looking pretty understaffed, half a dozen surfboard riders sitting out there on a gentle swell.

How surprised by this are you?

obama you let the whole world down

From Drudge:

‘We can live together’…
Netanyahu, Abbas attend Paris mass rally…
Largest in French history…
KISS-OFF: USA represented only by ambassador?
Officials skipped Washington ‘Charlie’ rally, too…
Gunman appears in chilling video, declares loyalty to Islamic State…
WIRE: Both brothers had weapons training in Yemen…
Afghanistan rally hails attackers as ‘heroes’…
FEINSTEIN: Terrorist sleeper cells are in USA…
FBI Assuming Larger Surveillance Role…

MEANWHILE BACK IN AUSTRALIA: This is titled, Our Gutless Surrender, is written by Roger Kimball, is published at PJ Media in the US, but begins:

The Melbourne-based journalist and television commentator Andrew Bolt is celebrated and reviled by all the right (i.e., all the left) people throughout his native land. He’s been threatened, sued, and otherwise harassed by the politically correct establishment that, despite the great Tony Abbott in the prime minister’s seat, holds sway in Oz. Along with the writers associated with Quadrant magazine in Sydney, Bolt is one of only a handful of people who have effectively challenged the sclerotic orthodoxy of establishment opinion on all matter of issues, from the Aborigines and immigration to the virtues of free-market economics to the cesspool of hatred that is the ideology of radical Islam.

It does require a special kind of brave, which unfortunately not everyone has.

Quadrant and the never ending threats to our freedoms

There’s a new web page at Quadrant Online to celebrate the 500th issue of the magazine. What an extraordinary achievement. Congratulations to Quadrant and Keith Windschuttle, the latest in a long line of great editors, who have help keep our liberties alive. And congratulations to Roger Franklin, the online editor, who has made the site a daily requirement. The dangers never cease and Quadrant remains one of the most important of our own institutions in trying to hold back the many threats to our freedoms. If you come here you should also go there.

And as it happens, I have an article on the Quadrant website today dealing with these very threats to our freedoms which is basically an alert to an article by David Horowitz. This is the quote from David which I have cited but there is much more:

Today the Obama juggernaut is systematically bankrupting our country, and undoing our constitutional arrangements. Its contempt for consultative and representative government is relentlessly on display. This week Senate Majority leader Harry Reid defended his refusal to negotiate with Republicans over Obamacare and the debt in these words: ‘We are here to support the federal government. That’s our job.’ End quote. Forget about representing the people whom our Founders made sovereign. Forget what America is about.

The fact that I had a radical past allowed me to see much of this coming. But even I never thought we would be looking so soon at the prospect of a one-party state. Those words may sound hyperbolic, but take a moment to think about it. If you have transformed the taxing agency of the state into a political weapon – and Obama has; if you are setting up a massive government program to gather the financial and health information of every citizen, and control their access to care; and if you have a spy agency that can read the mail and listen to the communications of every individual in the country, you don’t really need a secret police to destroy your political opponents. Once you have silenced them, you can proceed with your plans to remake the world in your image.

I cannot tell whether the complacency comes from a deeper understanding that it can’t happen here or just from a belief that it can’t happen here even though it can. The article has been much linked to on websites such as this in the US but the likelihood that it will become discussed by the public in general is of course nigh on zero, mostly because the public in general has zero chance of even knowing such discussion is even taking place.