On the IPA, human rights and counter-hegemonies

So, Tony Abbott has appointed Institute of Public Affairs policy analyst Tim Wilson as Australia’s next human rights commissioner. Quelle surprise. The Left in general have gotten in quite a huff over this,[1] despite the fact that the organisation’s previously wall-to-wall leftist commissioners failed to deter the Labor government from its descent to the bottom of the refugee policy barrel.

And sure, Wilson will certainly use the position to push his libertarian agenda, although even Tony Abbott must have seen the irony in appointing an outspoken critic of government intervention in people’s lives (not to mention spending in general) to a plush,$300,000 a year plus taxpayer funded job at a rights lobby.

But in the end, I think there are two key points missing from this debate. The nature of ‘human rights’ as an idea, and the left’s general readiness to jump into the morass of culture wars. Both of which point to a significant misunderstanding of how we should be establishing what Gramsci called a ‘counter-hegemony’ of radical ideas.

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