A conservative fable

The Australian’s editorial (“Real-world problems hit by posturing of digital age”, 11/8) reiterates a story conservatives have been telling since Reagan, namely that there exists a “political class” composed of “progressive intellectuals” whose greatest sin, apart from being educated and living in the city, is their lack of connection to “the mainstream”, where that is defined as conservative. This “class” somehow controls the media and the education system, and about half the time, tricks the “mainstream” into voting for it. Despite having won battles with conservatives from the abolition of slavery through to gender equality, they are on “the wrong side of history”.

If this theory were plausible, it would have been easy to present some demographic evidence to support it. However there is none, because it is no more than a fable. There is no intellectual elite except in the sense that some people are smart. There is no mainstream except in the sense that people from all walks of life hold different views on different issues, some of which could be described as progressive, some conservative. The real elites, as always, have actual money and power; for example, the owners of global media empires.

The Australian would do well to take the advice it has frequently offered Wayne Swan, and refrain from trying to incite phoney class wars.

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