The Media of the Republic sample

The Media of the Republic

Who Killed Diana?


I WAS AMONG the multitude worldwide outraged by the media’s role in the Princess of Wales’s tragic death in August 1997. Like most, I thought the media had hunted her to death. Roused to indignant anger, I began thumping away on my keyboard until I had a book ready for publication about eighteen months later. I published it under the title The Media of the Republic.

Two connected happenings brought me to revisit the Diana story. First, there was Lord Dyson’s shocking report (14 May 2021) of his investigation into the BBC’s handling of the accusation that Martin Bashir of the BBC Panorama program tricked Diana into giving her sensational 1995 interview. Second, equally important, was Prince William’s address to the world on Dyson’s findings. With feeling, William explained from his perspective—a unique perspective—how the BBC (and, by implication, the rest of the media) significantly contributed to his parents’ divorce and his mother’s end. Bashir’s interview, the BBC’s inability to see and accept the deceit, and Princes William and Harry’s responses are crucial parts of the Diana story. With these recent developments, I propose to round off the story of Diana’s death, its purpose, and its causes.

This new edition is a thoroughly revised, rewritten in parts, and added-to version of the Diana story with a sharpened refocus. In the first edition, I was keen to explain the ideological presuppositions behind the media’s reporting and to challenge their claims about who was to blame for the accident. Attacking the system of Monarchy by inciting mob hatred was their chief aim. Greed took second place. I wanted to refute the dodgy arguments they ran to shift blame from themselves to the public’s (allegedly) vicious, insatiable appetite for sensation and gossip. The public, they claimed, was driven by a prurient indictable interest in the private lives of people like Princess Diana. The subject of republicanism—its ideology, motivations and purposes—and the viability of Monarchy in our modern world came in for extensive discussion.

My intention in this new edition—The Media of the Republic: Who Killed Diana?—is to examine and refute the same arguments, but I have shortened and refined the somewhat long ideological explanation in chapter 2 to make clear the distinction between a general idea of republicanism and what I have called theoretic-republicanism. Theoretic-republicanism is a form of republicanism based on the rationalism and materialism of the Enlightenment. Edmund Burke, who vigorously rejected forms of government based on abstract theory, had a different idea of how people form into a nation.

I explain how Burke’s idea of a republic differs from that implicit in the media’s reporting of the death of Diana with their undisguised attack on the Monarchy—on any monarchy. I have also reduced the aggression in that chapter, which one reviewer said couched a ‘smouldering anger.’ Indeed, throughout this new edition of The Media of the Republic I have adopted a more measured but not less rigorous tone. I have concentrated my analyses of the reporting on the Murdoch media, most often on The Australian, considered a quality newspaper. I did not want to rest my case on tabloid writing. Second, sticking predominantly to one media instrument provided a persuasive continuity in my critical analyses. The media, however, acted as one. There was little difference in the orientation between the instruments of the mainstream media. There was no intent to focus my criticism on one journalist. The reporting I criticise exemplifies most reporting.

Finally, the issue of republicanism is of ongoing import for Australians. The debate over whether Australia should discard its Constitutional Monarchy and replace it with a republican form of government is as robust today as twenty-five years ago. The 1999 referendum on whether Australia should become a republic was defeated, but the supporters of the republic have not accepted defeat. They continue their campaign behind the scenes, waiting for the right moment to reignite their public struggle. I propose their idea of a republic is essentially based on the theoretic-republicanism I explain in chapter 2. It seems from occasional reporting that the republican movement in Britain is growing stronger. My explanation of theoretic-republicanism and analysis of the media reporting of the death of Diana are of as much interest to the defenders of Britain’s constitutional Monarchy as it is to Australians.


Chapter 1

Prince William Savages the BBC

AFTER TWENTY-FIVE years, the dramatic circumstances of the Princess of Wales’s death unexpectedly leapt out of the shadows of the world’s forgetfulness. Or should I say that a slow ticking timebomb blew up in the BBC’s face and, by extension, every media organization and every media scribbler who had joined the pack in hunting Diana to her death? The cause of the explosion was Lord Dyson’s scathing report on the BBC’s deviousness, manipulation, and inability to come clean about the blockbuster interview which Diana gave to Martin Bashir for the BBC’s Panorama program. The program, ‘An interview with HRH Princess of Wales’, aired on 20 November 1995 and had 23 million salivating viewers glued to their televisions in the UK. Praised as the scoop of a generation, it was instead the scoop of the century.

I remember it well. But I did not salivate at the BBC’s prurience. My feelings were of embarrassment and sympathy for a performance unworthy of Diana. It showed her to the world at her worst: bitter, paranoid, spiteful, and with the explicit intention of ruining her husband’s life. It was nothing new. In the several years leading up to this interview, she displayed the same behaviour, though not as barefacedly. In public with Prince Charles, who maintained some dignity and self-respect, she appeared bored, detached, and impatient to be anywhere else except with her contemptible husband, his stupid royal duties, and his menacing entourage. It was childish in the extreme. On one occasion, on offering a trophy to Charles after a polo match, she turned her head away when he went to kiss her. It was the behaviour one expects from a sulky child. But there were mitigating reasons for such behaviour.

By November 1995, the pitiless and unrelenting media and others wanting to exploit her had worn Diana down. Prince Harry recalls the hair-raising ride to school with paparazzi chasing the car in which Diana drove him and Prince William. ‘When I think about my mum,’ he said after the publication of the Dyson report, ‘the first thing that comes to mind is always the same one, over and over again: strapped in the car, seatbelt across, with my brother in the car as well, and my mother driving, being chased by three, four, five mopeds, with paparazzi on. She was almost unable to drive because of the tears. There was no protection.’ Indeed, there was no protection, not only from the mopeds.

Despite Bashir’s chummy, sympathetic manner during that infamous interview, Diana was unprotected less against his callous tricks and deceptions to win the interview than the dangerously buzzing mopeds. Before I look at Bashir’s deceit and the BBC management’s spineless, defensive reaction when the sorry story became undeniable, I want to preface it and what follows with Prince William’s response to the Dyson Report. It is a damning summary of what many of us thought of the behaviour of those exploiting Diana for money, power, and political purposes. Prince William addressed the world media on 21 May 2021:

I would like to thank Lord Dyson and his team for the report. It is welcome that the BBC accepts Lord Dyson’s findings in full, which are extremely concerning: that the BBC employees lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother, made lurid and false claims about the royal family, which played on her fears and fueled paranoia, displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the program and were evasive in their reporting to the media, and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation.

It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.

It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia, and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.

But what saddens me most is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would’ve known that she’d been deceived.

She was failed not just by a rogue reporter but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.

It is my firm view that this Panorama program holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.

It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialized by the BBC and others. This settled narrative now needs to be addressed by the BBC or anyone else who has written and intends to write about these events.

In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important.

These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.

I have emphasized the critical assertions that I propose to examine in what follows—especially Diana’s brittle emotional state, her suspicion and paranoia, and the unconscionable way the media exploited her. Diana famously said there were three in her marriage. Actually, there were four, the fourth being the media. Prince William hints that the complete breakdown caused by the interview led eventually to his mother’s death. Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother, was more explicit. Speaking about his crucial meeting with Bashir, the meeting that started it all, he said, ‘Well, the irony is that I met Martin Bashir on 31 August 1995—because exactly two years later she died, and I do draw a line between the two events.’ That line ended with Diana lying broken in the back seat of a crumpled Mercedes in Paris’s Alma Tunnel.


ON BEHALF of the BBC Panorama team, John Ware reported (BBC News 21 May) the results of the program’s separate investigation into the Bashir affair ‘to restore public trust in Panorama’s journalism and independence’. I have relied much on his thoroughgoing, unsparing report. Most other media covered the Panorama deceit and Lord Dyson’s report but in less detail. Ware has the advantage of being close to the people and circumstances.

On 24 August 1995, Martin Bashir put into operation a plan to wheedle his way into Earl Spencer’s confidence and thereby gain access to Diana. He left a phone message with Spencer’s assistant and followed that up with a letter saying his untiring investigation had uncovered inimical forces working against the Spencer family. Bashir just wanted a little time to ‘share some information which, I believe, may be of interest.’ He called again on 29 August after receiving no reply. Spencer agreed to a quick drink in London. The conversation over that quick drink was extended to a meeting on 31 August at Althorp, Spencer’s country estate. The Earl had taken a hefty nibble.

During that first meeting, Bashir said he had evidence ‘that Spencer’s former head of security, ex-soldier Alan Waller, was being paid regularly by Rupert Murdoch’s News International and the intelligence services to spy on the Spencer family’. It seems Bashir was taken off guard by Spencer’s readiness to meet again after only two days. He had a problem. He had no documentation to show the Earl. Not to worry. Bashir rang graphic designer Matt Wiessler, ‘begging him to drop everything for a job that couldn’t wait’. That job was to create ‘two of Alan Waller’s bank statements which he claimed to have seen—£4,000 from News International on 8 March 1994, and £6,500 from a Jersey-based company called “Penfolds Consultants” on 4 June’. To stress the urgency, Bashir said it was ‘something big’, and MI5 and MI6 were involved. Wiessler, not seeing any need to question such a respected BBC journalist about an obviously important matter, worked through the night and had the documents ready for the 31 August meeting.

To back up the forged documents, Bashir told Spencer that Waller received ‘regular’ payments from News International and Penfolds Consultants, a ‘front company for the intelligence services’. Spencer had the bait well inside his mouth by this time, but what caused him to swallow it in one big gulp was Bashir’s ‘false claim’ that Commander Richard Aylard, Prince Charles’s private secretary, ‘was conspiring against Diana’. Spencer’s notes of his meetings with Bashir showed that Bashir accused Aylard of receiving ‘secretly recorded conversations’ about a possible Charles and Diana divorce and relayed the information to journalist Jonathan Dimbleby. Spencer rang Panorama editor Steve Hewlett and asked, ‘if he could trust Bashir.’ Of course, declared Hewlett, dear Martin was ‘one of my best’. The ball was now rolling with unstoppable momentum. Bashir’s audacity was swelling at the same rate.

On 14 September, again at Althorp, Bashir accused Diana’s private secretary, Patrick Jephson, of being ‘in cahoots with Aylard’. He showed Spencer a list detailing ‘sizeable payments to both Aylard and Jephson from the intelligence services to monitor Princess Diana’s movements’. All false. In targeting Aylard and Jephson, Bashir was cunning and calculating with Spencer, who, like Diana, had an intense distrust of the media. By 1995, Diana had nagging fears about Charles and his entourage conspiring to discredit her. She feared she had ‘enemies in high places’ and felt ‘vulnerable and unsettled’. So, Bashir’s claims would have her close attention. But Earl Spencer became suspicious. He thought Bashir’s charges of such preposterous treachery made ‘no sense’. Fatally, against his intuition and relying on Diana’s judgment, he arranged a meeting so Diana could ‘hear all this directly from Bashir’. Diana would meet Bashir on 19 September.

During the meeting, Bashir poured out another 30 lurid claims about sinister plotting and money passing between hands. Among the false claims were the Queen suffered from heart problems and was ‘eating for comfort’; Charles was in love with the boy’s nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke; and Prince Edward had AIDS. Spencer’s scepticism increased. He warned his sister that Bashir’s ‘stories didn’t add up and apologized to her’ for setting up the meeting. Diana brushed off the apology and the meeting—so Spencer thought. But Bashir had skillfully played Diana. Many meetings with Bashir followed, leading by the late summer of 1995 to the idea of a television interview. Diana was all for it. The interview went ahead on 20 November, during which Diana made her damning accusation, ‘There were three in this marriage’, the third being Camilla Parker Bowles with whom (she alleged) Charles had a long-time affair.

Drawing the veil aside from the sort of sad, sordid problems that plague most families, she admitted having an affair, claimed Charles’s affair made her feel worthless, admitted to bulimia and self-harm, claimed Charles and his entourage were waging a campaign against her, and suggested Charles was not fit to be king. Bashir had brilliantly succeeded. Like an ancient magician, he had cast a spell over her. ‘Do you really think a campaign was being waged against you?’ he asked at the beginning of the interview. After weeks of working up Diana’s fears, he elicited the programmed response. ‘Yes, I did,’ said Diana. The interview led to Diana and Charles’s divorce in 1996 and Diana’s rejecting the palace’s offer of security, claiming in the spirit of Bashir’s manipulation that it was just another way of spying on her. There was Diana alone, without security, having, with Bashir’s connivance, made herself the richest media prize in history. Every newsroom in the world now knew her worth.

In some alarm after seeing the broadcast, graphic designer Matt Wiessler twigged to a connection between the rushed forgeries and Bashir’s interview. He contacted Panorama editor Steve Hewlett. Hewlett brushed him off, saying there was nothing to worry about. Wiessler was not so easily brushed off. In December 1995, he ‘approached current affairs bosses Tim Gardam and Tim Suter and told them that he had been unwittingly drawn into forging bank statements by Bashir’. In the meantime, Wiessler faxed the fake documents to Panorama producer Mark Killick, after which Killick confronted Bashir. Bashir angrily told him to mind his business. The problem was batted back and forth between editors and management, with nothing resolved. Nobody contacted Spencer to ask what he knew. Lord Dyson considered this omission a monumental failure of BBC management. Spencer could have ended the growing problem and made Diana realize how much she had been deceived and manipulated.

The problem continued to simmer. At the Panorama Christmas party in 1995, Wiessler appeared ‘very shaken’. He told producer Peter Molloy that ‘his flat had been broken into, and the only thing missing appeared to be two disks containing the bank statements.’ The alarm bells could not have been ringing more loudly. But the ears listening did not want to hear. Despite editor Steve Hewlett assuring his superiors there was ‘nothing underhand in getting the Diana interview,’ Gardam, Hewlett and Suter called Bashir in for questioning. Bashir said he had not shown Diana or anyone else the bank statements. They couldn’t have been used to persuade the princess to give an interview, he said, because the source of the information in them had been Diana herself.’ It did not satisfy Gardam. The obvious question was, ‘Why had Bashir gone to the trouble and expense of creating such authentic-looking documents?’ Gardam wanted Bashir to get Diana’s assurance she had not seen the forgeries. A prompt handwritten letter, dated 22 December, came from Diana.

I can confirm that I was not [not is underlined twice] put under any undue pressure to give my interview. I was not shown any documents nor given any information by Martin Bashir that I was not already aware of. I was perfectly happy with the interview and I stand by it.

BBC management breathed a sigh of relief. They could not have better reassurance that Diana had not been tricked or pushed. But I wonder about Diana’s letter. How could she have known, as Bashir asserted, about the fake information in the fake documents if she had not seen them or had not told her about them? It was very particular information that Bashir claimed came from Diana. Something surely did not ring true. This question had not occurred to the BBC people. Had Bashir put the question to Diana that BBC management wanted? Bashir either did not put the full matter to Diana, or Diana reacted in a way that was typical of her.

The haste in returning her letter of support would suggest she had thought little about the question the BBC wanted answered. She had formed a close relationship with a respected BBC journalist who showed deep understanding and sympathy for her predicament and her feelings of persecution. She could not betray such a person, even if it meant lying about a matter of no real significance. Martin had allowed her to air her side of the conflict with her husband and his nasty supporters. That was the main issue. The princess, full of tender feelings, had given her answer. 

‘The BBC’s biggest scoop ever,’ wrote John Ware, ‘was safe. For now. What had been missed, however,’ continued Ware, ‘was a big clue that Bashir was lying.’ The dates of critical interviews clashed. Bashir said he first saw Diana in late September. Matt Weissler said he created the fake documents three weeks earlier, in late August/early September. Thus, Diana could not have been Bashir’s source. BBC management did not pick up the conflict. Despite missing this critical contradiction and despite Diana’s reassurance, the BBC management was still uneasy. Dates and information on the fake documents raised serious, unreconcilable questions. Management continued to bumble around, telling themselves Diana’s letter kept them safe. Gardam asked why Bashir had spent so much money and expense to make the fake documents if he did not intend to use them. It was just for his personal records, he said. Really? How could anyone swallow that absurdity? The BBC’s feeling of safety was delusional. The delusion would be tested the following year.

The Mail on Sunday contacted Earl Spencer on 21 March 1996, telling him ‘they were investigating how Martin Bashir had ‘secured his scoop interview’ with Diana. Faked documents were mentioned. Spencer called the BBC. He told editor Steve Hewlett of his part in the meeting between Diana and Bashir, crucially mentioning that Bashir showed documentary evidence of payments to spy on Diana. They questioned Bashir again. Bashir again denied showing the forgeries to anyone. But it would come out eventually, an outcome the bumbling BBC management insisted on ignoring until the last moment. John Ware wrote:

On 23 March, Gardam was telephoned and doorstepped by the Mail on Sunday, so he telephoned Bashir: Had he shown the documents to Spencer? Again, Bashir denied this to both Gardam and Hewlett. Unconvinced, that afternoon, Gardam sought another assurance. Fearing imminent publication, Bashir caved in, finally admitting that he had lied. It had taken four attempts since December to get the truth out of Bashir.

No surprise that Gardam was furious. He warned Bashir of severe repercussions for his deceit. A full inquiry would follow. The ‘full inquiry’ happened with an equal amount of bumbling, cavalier attitude, and avoidance behaviour. The Mail on Sunday published their piece. But surprisingly, nothing came of it. The BBC management was confident the story would die unless Spencer spoke, and that did not seem likely. Spencer would not speak for twenty-four years. I will return to the BBC’s 1996 inquiry and Lord Dyson’s report on the whole embarrassing blunder. Earl Spencer’s line from 31 August 1995 to 31 August 1997 had been drawn. The failure of the 1996 inquiry and Earl Spencer’s silence promised no interruption. I now go to the end of that line, keeping in mind Bashir’s deceit, the effect it had on Diana, and the BBC’s ‘woefully ineffective’ investigation (Lord Dyson).


Chapter 2

What is Theoretic-republicanism?


Often, the media is accused of a party-political bias. In most cases, it concerns alleged bias in favour of the parties of the left—The Labor Party, The Greens, and like parties periodically got up. This claim is a misconception. The ideological bias—the media’s ideological assumptions—is the crucial issue. That is the reason the mainstream media will often reject the charge of party bias by pointing to their occasional criticism of the policy of the leftist parties. They are correct in that their criticism issues from their ideological assumptions. If they criticise a Labor or Greens policy, it is grounded on the policy’s failure to meet those ideological assumptions.

Critical readers of the media are attuned to the ideological issues of the media’s product. They are curious to see how the arguments proceed and how well they stand up to their scrutiny. Such readers fall roughly into two groups, the first being a relatively small group in comparison with the other and possessing power and influence in inverse proportion to their size. The curious and confident theorist belongs to the first group. This group consists mainly of graduates of our tertiary institutions. They are likely to have completed a major study in sociology, politics, anthropology, or psychology, or to have been exposed to such disciplines during their study or, less commonly, provoked into such studies by the social ‘inequities’ they observe around them. Their minds will have been trained in the ‘scientific method’, trained to apply their reason rigorously and unrelentingly.

They will have long jettisoned the overlay of prejudice built over the years before their tertiary studies as so much harmful baggage. They will have dispensed with the influences of their family, of their customs, of their national and historical traditions, and of their religion. They will proceed in their inquiries inductively and deductively and form beliefs that the tribunal of their individual reason will continually supervise. Their constantly adjusted beliefs are brought together to form a theory about life that will guide them through the traps of prejudice and ignorance in the society around them. Thus, feeling well acquainted with theory and theorising, they will feel equipped to pass judgment.

Most readers trained in this manner may find their interest momentarily arrested by what they have read here. Quickly, however, they will see the tenets of their favourite theory implicitly challenged and their very way of thinking coming under assault. Nevertheless, the strength of their training will not let them down. It will protect them from any doubt about their ‘theoretical’ position. They will dismiss the flow of the argument as unconvincing and even repugnant. They will deplore the absence of precise definitions of terms, the lack of statistical and empirical evidence, and the neglect of case studies and favoured ‘models’. They will be indignant that the ‘latest’ scientific research (i.e. the research they are familiar with) has not been mentioned let alone considered.

The second group consists of the intelligent reader who has not strolled the halls of academia and most likely has not been subjected to the rigours of the ‘scientific method’. Or if he has, has managed to survive its influence. The activity of daily existence has formed this person’s thinking processes. His logic is the logic of everyday life, where purposes and values loom large in the thinking process and family, customs, traditions, and their prescriptive nature play a crucial role. If this person stops to reflect on his life and daily activities, he rarely separates himself in complete abstraction; he is always part of actual events connected with his welfare and the welfare of others.

He makes judgements about life in relation to the concrete circumstances. His judgements result from a body of general principles abstracted from his concrete experiences but do not form a body of conclusive theory. Indeed, he would never think that the scope of his sometimes inexplicable life could be reduced to a series of theoretical propositions. He is the person who often looks upon the academic theorist as a posturer and of little relevance to daily life. To the extent he thinks about it, he is inclined to look upon the indulgent life of the universities as a waste of time. It is this person that I am addressing and seeking to inform.

In talking about theory in this chapter, I am not aiming to outline yet another theory to counter the ‘theorist’ as I have described him above. I aim to show that theory is never just abstract theory if it has any meaning at all. Its practical meaning takes it beyond a collection of words on paper; to be effective, it leads to action. Thus, I am attempting to indicate how ‘theory’ is used, how theory makes the transition from an a priori framework to concrete action, and that the action of theory is quite a different matter from the endless discussions provoked by the scientific method in tutorial rooms and lecture halls of universities.


The differences in reasoning I have just outlined appear in the ‘debate’ in Australia about whether Australia should become a republic. Undoubtedly, many ordinary Australians have expressed a choice for a republic, but I would claim there is a big gap between those ordinary Australian citizens who want the change to a republic and those motivated by a theory of republicanism argued abstractly. Two very different conceptions of a nation’s Constitution highlight the gap in understanding. One view holds that a constitution is a written document fixed a priori in the life of a nation and that the written document is self-contained and prescriptive, only waiting on changes deemed theoretically desirable.

The other holds that a country’s Constitution is far more than a written document. It can include a formal written statement, but by far, the most important part is what can be abstracted from the arrangements of a people as a ‘people’, that is, from their history, customs, traditions, laws, and other social arrangements. In this view, changing a country’s Constitution is not reducible to a theoretical analysis of the written instrument based on the latest social theory, after which alterations deemed theoretically necessary are recommended. If change is to be made, it arises from the social pressure created by developing tensions in the actual social arrangements. Change is implemented in such a way as to preserve the substantial character of the nation and its foundational principle—which is the Constitution in the broad sense.

No change that does not presuppose the nation’s character and foundational principle is allowable. No theoretical right that does not presuppose the substance of the nation and its people can be claimed against it. A nation in the process of change and adjustment must make those changes to its Constitution while conserving all that is good in its social and political arrangements. No a priori theory that proposes change willy nilly to the Constitution can be legitimate. These different views, however briefly stated, correspond with the distinction I have made between the theorist’s manner of reasoning and the social ‘logic’ of the ordinary person. What are the origins then of the modern theorist mentality? What are the motivations driving the theorist ever onwards?

One can find the origins of the ‘modern’ mind’s thinking in the period known as ‘The Age of Reason’ or the Enlightenment. This was the glorious time, they say, when ‘the people’ revolted against all superstition and arbitrary power and took individual reason as their sole guide and authority. The superstition they were fighting was revealed religion. This meant Christianity and, most particularly, the Catholic Church. The arbitrary power they sought to overthrow was authority based on traditional social arrangements and vested in an inherited monarchy. At a higher and less obvious level was the effort to debunk the ancient Greek philosophies as reworked by St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas, which formed the intellectual basis of European/Christian civilisation through to the 18th century and at a constantly degenerating level to this very day. The most solid vestiges of Western civilisation are still primarily based on this philosophical heritage. It will be instructive to outline the core of this intellectual heritage.

The intellectual heritage of European/Christian civilisation arose from an ongoing analysis by several great philosophers of the way the ordinary person conceives of reality and secures his knowledge of the world. It is often referred to as the ‘common sense’ philosophy. The school of thought resulting from this analysis is known as ‘classical realism’. Classical realism has been the most enduring of all systems of thought—however much it is now ignored. Its opponents have sometimes disparaged it as ‘glorified common sense’. Its adherents have not taken that to be an objection. Its starting point is our observations of the material world, which we see as having a separate, independent existence. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an excellent brief description of the core belief system.

It is the metaphysical and epistemological ‘doctrine that the human intellect discovers in the particulars apprehended by sense perception an intelligible order of abstract essences and necessary relations ontologically prior to particular things and contingent events, and from that order, the intellect can demonstrate necessary truths and first causes and the being and attributes of God.’ In less technical language, not only do we see things around us with an objective existence, but we also see that those things individually have natures. We see dogs, cats, cars, buildings and so on. We distinguish these things because they answer to a concept of their nature. An analysis of this simple thought process reveals that while we see a particular material cat with our eyes, our intellect ‘sees’ a supersensible quality, ‘catness’. If we take all the other objects arounds us, we will arrive at the same analysis. In brief, we are aware of a material and an immaterial world, and this immaterial world has an intelligible structure. Cats and dogs and houses are not unconnected existences. They are in all sorts of relations to the world around them. One important relation is that of causality.

We observe that the material world is in constant change. One thing becomes another. Other things make another. Some things move others, and so on. In all this, we recognise one of the great principles of the world around us: causality. In the physical world, causality can be defined by physical laws. More importantly, the physical laws form a structure over and above the existence of physical objects. That is part of the immaterial order overseeing the world. There is also this enduring element of the principle of causality: the first cause, or the ultimate cause, God. The great religions of the world rest on this basis, however differently their religious beliefs are expressed. Many people intuitively think that God exists because there had to be an original cause for all else that exists. We see an ordered world before us, and God is conceived as the Author of that world. Realist philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas and many others) developed their analysis of these fundamental observations into an intricate philosophical system with its own specialised terminology (existence-essence, form-matter, substance-accident, act-potency, the four causes, etc.).

Their analysis did not stop at the world of objects. They also developed the fundamental observations of social and moral behaviour. If God is the Author of the order of the physical world, then he is also the Author of the social and moral worlds. In all cultures through all ages, we can find basic moral principles. Killing, stealing, and adultery, for example, have been considered objectively wrong. It is true that a society may deviate in whole and in part from such moral principles. The explanation is that people and societies are fallible and can blind themselves to the objective nature of moral principles. But however much the unalterable moral principles are suppressed they rise again and again. Non-believers often find themselves trapped into talking about some moral principles as enduring regardless of the apparent exceptions they can think of. People recognise what the philosophers have called the Natural Law in the scheme of things.

The Natural Law reflects God’s moral order in the world, and we human beings have been granted the ability through our God-given reason to recognise what we should do and should not do. This is the classical concept of natural law. Later philosophers like empiricist John Locke would understand something entirely different under ‘natural law’. In the actual circumstances of a community, the natural laws of social organisation and morality are reflected in the traditions, customs, habits, and institutions. Indeed, in a healthy community, the laws of God would inhere in these things.

The basis, then, of the community’s social and political laws would be the natural law, which is the law of God. However differently the human law (or positive law) would be in its concrete expression from community to community, the natural law must be presupposed—if the laws and social arrangements are to be legitimate. These philosophers felt that this order of things could be observed throughout history, regardless of the human failure that is also abundantly evident. Whatever the differences in the expression of actual religious belief, the minimum requirement of any society, if it is to endure, is recognising God’s order in the world.

   This is a brief everyday description of the great tradition of classical realism. Perhaps too brief. For my purposes, however, I want to stress that the realist school of philosophy resulted from analysing how the ordinary person thinks and acts. Classical realism sought to explain what we do not doubt and take for granted, regardless of its often inexplicable content. The ordinary person does not need the works of Aristotle or Plato to live a full and happy life with work, community, family and friends. Indeed, the involved and specialised analysis would not benefit him in most cases.

   Philosophical speculation was best restricted to the academies where the professional philosopher could draw a connection between the philosophical system and the world of practical concerns and pass that information onto those in the community who could mediate between the prescriptions of the speculative insights and society’s ability to absorb them. The important point is that intellectual speculation in the realist school remained linked to the ‘real’ and actual world of the person.

The philosophers of ‘The Age of Reason’ broke this link. They turned the sequence of the actual world begetting theory around so that anything not reducible to a series of propositions would come under question; theory would beget the world. Using words in a mathematical manner, they proposed arguments that took them out of the concrete conditions of human action into a rarefied, abstract world. They purposely stripped themselves of all the presuppositions of their lives, community, and country. In their shivering metaphysical nakedness, they embarked on a climb to power and set themselves adrift from the actual world that most of us live in. The three areas of traditional religion, authority, and philosophy came under unrelenting attack by theorists using what can be called the ‘rationalistic method’.

The rationalistic method would lead to an a priori vision of how the world should be. To know how society and people should behave would be known before the institution of a particular society based on the prescriptions of the theory. Those faulty societies already existing could be altered and renewed based on the same prescriptions. It would merely be a matter of checking the society off against the theoretical prescriptions.

There was great cleverness and variety in the many theories proposed in a crusading and proselytising spirit to bring down the realist heritage that had developed and formed over two thousand years. But there was always that one element they had in common: an unshakeable conviction that individual reason must be the final judge in analysing the world. The judgements and prescriptions inherent in a body of traditions, customs, laws, and religious beliefs would be disqualified. In due course, a cluster of theories seemed to predominate in a period now referred to most often as the Enlightenment (but more accurately called the French Enlightenment). They were the theories of Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant. Add Descartes to this group and almost all schools of modern thought following these philosophers can be traced back to their writings.

For our purposes here, we can discard Kant, whose most important work is incomprehensible to all but the initiated. There is also great subtlety and cleverness in the theories of the other philosophers, but there are several core features that can be combined in a most seductive and comprehensible manner. To explain how these core features are combined, we can start a few centuries ago in England.

Perhaps the first significant attack on the tradition of ancient Greek philosophy came from a Dominican monk ensconced in that ancient English institution, Oxford University. William of Ockham (1290-1349) is known mainly for the philosophic device called Ockham’s razor. Despite the present undeserved obscurity of William of Ockham, the development of his philosophy of nominalism was of critical influence. Of interest here is one of the most essential features of his nominalism: the mind ‘sees’ only particular material things (men, dogs, cars, etc.). It does not ‘see’ natures or essences (catness, dogness, etc.) or non-material structures. The Enlightenment philosophers accepted that Ockham was right in saying that the mind ‘sees’ only the particular. It does not discover an intelligible world of essences and the like over and above the particulars of sense perception. It sees only the material. Now, if one accepts this epistemological (knowledge) proposition that there is nothing beyond the world of particular material objects perceived by the senses, then the implications of how one thinks about the world are enormous—especially concerning moral, social and political matters.

   To cut a tremendously long and complicated story short, if there are no universal natures or essences, if there is no immaterial structure overseeing the activity of the human person (a system of unalterable moral rules), but only particular things, then we are faced with an endless appearance of particular material things with no perceptible (metaphysical) order. If one finds order in the world, then that order results from an act of will; there has been a decision to impose order on an intrinsically unordered realm. Taking this a few steps further about the social and moral world, the individual in the natural state of this unordered world has no moral, social or political restrictions whatever. After all, there can be no such things in his natural world. In essence, he has a radical freedom and a radical equality with other individuals.

The establishment of any society, then, is essentially a decision to impose a stated order on a group of equal and free people agreeing to come together for their mutual advantage. This, then, is the manner of creating ‘the republic’ for the person who accepts and believes in the materialist theories of the Enlightenment philosophers. The citizens create the republic by an act of will prior to its existence. No republic exists prior to the act of will. The whole body of free and equal individuals must decide the particulars of government. That decision always results in a particular form of republic. The theory decides its form a priori.

However, the theory concerns far more than the establishment of the government. It prescribes the moral and social form of the republic. The moral principles, laws, and institutions of a community are matters that the community must decide about. No pre-ordained structure of the world is relevant. Authority based on religion, tradition, custom, and settled arrangements is declared illegitimate. That’s why, for the purposes of this book, I have given this global moral vision the term ‘theoretic-republicanism’. It is to distinguish a republic based on the rationalistic materialist views of the Enlightenment philosophers from a republic based on classical realist thinking.

One more important point about theoretic-republicanism: if the decision to set up government follows the agreement among free and equal individuals, then the default of the agreement means that the individual is logically permitted to opt out of the agreement, that is, to return to the natural unordered moral-free realm and resume the ‘unlimited rights’ he enjoyed in his natural state. Given this essential individual freedom, it would be the gravest transgression of our individual status to have somebody lord it over us in a system of arbitrary human fabrication (especially that of monarchy). There can be nothing more grave than the transgression of the individual subjective rights flowing from the fact of our equality and freedom. Now, you may well ask, what is wrong with all that? That’s surely to describe things as they really are. And who but the ignorant does not think like that these days?

Well, as beautiful as this picture is, it represents the cruellest fraud that has ever been foisted on humanity. The alleged superstition of Christianity is nothing compared to the fantasy of this ‘rationalistic’ scenario. To begin with, the theories from which this very recognisable conglomeration is drawn are full of holes, inconsistencies, and flaws. In terms of their method, they are a complete failure. The most compelling philosophical position one faces via the rationalistic method is thorough-going scepticism. Even the scientific method—inductive reasoning—has not fully recovered from the devastating arguments of Scottish philosopher David Hume, the most important of the British empiricists. So, if the adherents of the rationalistic method claim to have definitively brought down the superstitious structure of belief in God and revealed religion, they have brought everything else down. The ‘definitive’ rejection of belief in God, something peculiar to the epoch of rationalism (for in all traditionally formed societies, belief in God is central), is merely one among the definitive rejection of all certain belief.

If scepticism is the most compelling position forced on us by the general method of rationalism, then in the end, this restores belief in God to its pre-eminent position in the life of ordinary people who don’t know about or want to know about a system which fails in its own method. The ordinary person who believes in God should remain utterly unmoved by the university-educated know-all who claims that belief in God has no foundation. The explanation he will give will be as confusing as it sounds. Of course, it will not sound confusing to those who have ‘mastered’ the relevant rhetoric. Nevertheless, I am not about to embark on yet another exposition of the key thoughts of Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature or to try and wade through Hobbes’s Leviathan. These books and their thousands of commentaries take up space in any university library. We will leave this enticing theoretical labyrinth to those selected to find their way through it. I am concerned not with the development of theory but with the mentality and tactics that feed on this intellectual heroin.

In terms of understanding the arguments for radical freedom and equality, just how free and equal are we? Well, if anybody wants to understand the full scope of the reasoning behind the assertions of radical individual equality and freedom then he will have to enrol in some sort of course given by somebody initiated into its mysteries. Believe me; it would be extremely rare for a person to pick up the works of these gurus of rationalism and understand the arguments without the patient guidance of a tutor. The plain fact is that the tenets of theoretic freedom and equality are theoretic dogma that must be taught and learnt dogmatically. The average person would not have the patience, interest, time and ability to arrive at a competent understanding of the theories—theories that would not aid them one jot in their daily lives.

The function of the university is to separate the initiates-elect from the ignorant masses. But in the long run, many of those chosen to be initiated will have learnt their lessons dogmatically from a directing intellect who will prepare them to regurgitate it all at the right moment and dismiss all those not trained in their rhetoric as stupid and ignorant. Part of the gigantic rationalistic fraud is that the dogma, priests, bishops, theologians and hierarchy of the Catholic Church have been replaced by a different hierarchical structure and set of dogma. The rationalistic theories of freedom and equality served best to replace one system of authority with an opposing system of authority. The apostles of radical freedom and equality laid the foundations for their power and ascendancy.


What could be of more use to the power-hungry than a dogmatic system of belief that asserts we have unlimited individual rights in a world where no fixed moral, social and political standards exist? Where all moral, social, and political standards can only be the result of agreement and promulgated in written form—all of which can be at any moment overthrown? What presents a more conducive ground for self-aggrandisement and material accumulation than a society whose members dogmatically accept that it is continually in a reconstitutive condition—that all authority is essentially a transgression of the person’s natural state? The answer is that nothing could be more useful and conducive to the power-hungry. Those able to amass and wield power cleverly have open slather. All the obstacles presented by traditional morality, religion, and social arrangements have been removed in principle. Prevailing power will determine who is ruler and who is subject. Far from being a compelling ‘theory’, theoretic individual subjective rights sound rather like a state of delusion.

Few of us like being told what to do. But most of us agree it would be impractical to constantly challenge the designated authority in the social contexts in which we find ourselves. Indeed, we are more concerned with the people and the circumstances than with the presence of a coordinating authority. Others, however, suffer great pains under even the mildest authority—who feel acutely the transgression of their ‘free nature’. These are those who have taken on most seriously the ‘dictates of human reason’ or, perhaps more accurately, the rhetoric. Having reached by way of ‘reason’ the conclusion that we are all equally free, they put aside without blushing the fact that, in terms of their theory, maintaining an agreement is essential if they want to keep society from falling apart at each moment. Each social management system immediately becomes a challenge to their natural state of unlimited freedom. The more a system of social management becomes successful, and the more entrenched it becomes, the more embittered the resistance of the ‘radically free and equal’ subject. We are talking about a pathological condition we could call fear of authority.

Fear of authority is an obsessive/compulsive condition of varying degrees of seriousness. At its mildest, it can cause disruption and nuisance in one’s social environment. At its most serious, it can devastate whole nations and periods in history. Its most intriguing feature is that it starts with the subject’s mind giving ‘reasoned’ assent to what the subject sees as pre-eminently lucid propositions about the state of the human person. However, the ‘reasoned’ position of radical freedom for the individual becomes the source of upward-spiralling bitterness the more it is contemplated. The more the formulations of equality are implemented in a ‘properly’ constituted society, the more the established authority looms to torment the radically free subject. Thus, the paradox of fearing authority. Rather than give the complete picture of this condition and its varying degrees of actual expression, I will only describe its extremes. A discussion of its extremes will vividly convey the essential nature of fear of authority and the way such a fearful person utilises the theory of freedom and equality just discussed. Of course, less serious degrees of the condition (readily identifiable in many nations of the so-called ‘free world’) will produce less serious outcomes. But they will be of the same nature and manifest the same features.

The idea of equality held by the subject fearful of authority is of a very particular sort. Other systems of belief also hold that people are essentially equal. Traditional Christian belief is that we are equal in that we all possess the same human nature with the same moral rights and duties. We are all called to a life of virtue. This concept of equality is not incompatible with the belief that the human person’s nature incorporates different levels of skill, ability, dignity, and temporal rank. Indeed, the Christian concept of equality underpins the healthy functioning of the various ranks of skill and authority in the temporal sphere. It is emphasised in the critical commandment ‘to love God and thy neighbour as thyself’.

The idea of equality subscribed to by the mind fearful of authority is of the equalising or levelling sort. According to this idea, there is and thus should be no temporal difference between individuals. Corrupt social and political systems have perniciously introduced any manifested difference (inequality) between individuals. The task of the authority-phobic subject is to reconstitute a corrupt society by levelling measures. A most obvious levelling measure was the mandatory uniform of communist China. What more effective way of equalising society is there than making people wear the same clothing? Levelling society is the great object of the authority-phobic mind. However, levelling requires a leveller to preside over the systems of levelling.

Those who are most fanatical about equalising society crave the authority of the leveller. The reason is that the system of authority generated to level society produces a growing torment in the phobic subject responsible for the systems of levelling. The more he is tormented by the authority he has generated, the more he works to control the instruments of the levelling authority to escape his torment. He begins to identify himself with the levelling authority. There must be equality, but it is for others. The effort to absorb the levelling authority brings an ever-greater power position, which he does not hesitate to use to broaden the range and effectiveness of the levelling campaign. Success in his unrelenting efforts brings great power and an ever-greater longing to rise above any situation of authority—even above the limits of his physical existence.

But if his efforts meet with failure, the results for society are potentially disastrous. The greater the failure, the closer he comes to opting out of society, that is, out of the agreement he sees himself trapped in. With total failure, he finds himself back in his natural state where no moral standards exist to restrain him from combating those who possess the great power he himself wants to retain. But as an individual he must face the unpleasant reality that he holds no power over the prevailing authority. His only course of action is now to associate with like-minded, radically free and equal subjects to combat in whatever way those who have limited his freedom and made him less equal than the possessors of power. Justified violence is now his mode of existence aimed especially at those who think in the same manner.

In this way, an inevitable fragmentation in the body politic occurs with the various authority-phobic bodies agitating for the control of the society in the process of being levelled. Total war is declared against those falling outside the group’s self-defined area of established freedom. This power struggle takes place above and out of reach of those being levelled, and all tactics and weapons are allowable to impose the group’s particular idea of the ‘free’ order. Tactics and weapons are only condemned if they do not advance the ‘right’ phobic faction. Bashings, standovers, vandalism, theft, and calumny are all legitimate if committed on the faction’s behalf.

For the successful, radically free and equal subject there are other issues. The amassing of great power and the necessity to hold both the levelled and the opposition in check present administrative, educational, and policing problems. Two things happen in the extreme cases. An individual subject may decide to press on with his campaign to level society completely and destroy his opponents’ power position. His object will be to continue to amass the necessary power while introducing a limited hierarchy of servants who are guaranteed to wield his power in the way he wants. This limited body of servants will act as his executing arm. He has reached such heights that the only criterion for the means for maintaining and increasing power is the effectiveness of the means. All people and things have become expendable. All must bow to the decrees of a supreme leader possessing the power to control absolutely. The devastation wrought by this authority-phobic type is present in the history of the 20th century and seen in all its gruesome detail.

In the second extreme case, the authority-phobic type recognises the risks of proceeding on his own. He sees the best manner of accumulating power as associating with like-minded subjects who have more or less reached the same level in accumulating power, prestige and property. These like-minded free and equal subjects form, in a virtual sense, a ruling class that determines the means of levelling the rest of society and the administrative apparatus of securing what has been gained. Absolute formality in organising the class is unnecessary and counter to its reconstitutive spirit. It’s an organisational framework with acknowledged fluidity in its members’ movements. In this ruling class, a supreme directing body is chosen to oversee the essential functions of the levelling process and secure class hegemony. The supreme body presents no real threat in terms of power to the rest of the class members. This is a necessary administrative matter, and the membership of the supreme group is a reward for the services rendered to the ruling class as a whole. An essential feature of the ruling class is that its members distribute their own offices. In this scenario, the authority-phobic’s distaste of authority has not been diminished but mitigated by, firstly, the demands of practical politics and, secondly, by the knowledge that his position as oligarch presents him always with the means to limit the effects of the surrounding authority and the potential, always present, to amass a higher degree of power and thus reduce the torment of the forms of authority he himself is responsible for.

An important third reason for forming a ruling class is the administrative task of maintaining a levelled society. This is more easily undertaken in a class structure than in the absolutist position described above. The controlling functions are spread over more shoulders, and a subservient hierarchy of sub-managers and theoretical slaves is more easily formed and supervised. The theoretical slave is an especially potent weapon in the hands of the ruling elite. The theoretical slave accepted the principles of theoretic-republicanism not because the arguments convinced him, for they were only half-understood. No, the slave accepted the main principles enthusiastically as compelling dogma. This renders him ever-ready to reel the main points off at a moment’s notice with fluency and conviction. This is particularly useful in TV ‘debates’ where the allowable timespan for debating admirably suits the slave’s talents. The media boss has already fixed the terms and format, and the slave can enter the debate context immediately with his memorised dogma. The debate is often over before those who challenge the paradigm of theoretic-republicanism have managed to break even a tiny hole in the wall of assumptions that confronts them.

Furthermore, the administrative hierarchy generated by the ruling class is more acceptable to the levelled masses because it approaches the ordinary person’s idea of the structure of authority more closely. The ordinary person feels instinctively the need for a constituted authority in society. Thus, the masses are more compliant, making the educational and policing tasks more manageable. The educational task is of utmost importance because the reasons for levelling must be constantly promulgated and absorbed by the levelled masses. This propaganda issue is not only for educational institutions but, more importantly, for the instruments of public information dissemination, that is, the radio, TV, and newspapers. Control of the media is maintained paradoxically by one of the great slogans of the authority-phobic mind: A democratic and free society depends on the freedom of the press.

The media as the mouthpiece of the ascendant class is crucial. When the ruling class of authority-phobic subjects has control of the media, it can disseminate in almost complete form its ideas and hold in check those elements in society who are its most detested enemies—those acting according to traditional ideas of society, morality and religion. At all costs, the authority-phobic mind must destroy any attempt to set up a system of standards that is outside the free and equal subject, instituting society by an act of will. A ‘free’ press is the necessary weapon in countering the insidious influences of traditional life. It is also the most effective weapon in projecting that the ruling class always works for the levelled masses. They project their form of rule as ‘republicanism’, a form of rule, they say, where all positions in society are open to all its free and equal members. In truth, the levelled masses are even less able than in a traditionally formed society to approach the ramparts of power. After all, an all-powerful ruling elite has levelled them.

 Access to the ruling class is decided by its members, by a nomenclature, and the initiation conditions are hardly less stringent than in any traditional society, traditional religion, or in an aristocracy decided by birth and state appointment. One of the great hoaxes of the ruling elite is the claim that they are conserving a form of society in which everyone can aspire to be its president. Well, they can aspire, but that’s all. The poor Aussie battler drinking his beer in Rooty Hill RSL can forget about ever being president. In an abstract sense, everything is possible except a contradiction. It is possible that the sun may rise tomorrow in the west. Indeed, that seems more likely to happen than any member of Rooty Hill RSL becoming president of Australia. The position of president in the republic is the property of the ruling class.

‘Theoretic-republicanism’ is the ideology of the authority-phobic mind. The discerning reader may think it has other labels: left-wing, communist, Marxist, liberal, progressive, etc. I propose that theoretic-republicanism is the synthesis of not only all these denominations but of denominations that seem in strict opposition, such as German National Socialism and Italian Fascism. Theoretic-republicanism is the umbrella under which all these movements shelter as subsets. They are in unrelenting and bitter opposition to traditionally formed societies that recognise God’s unchangeable laws. The dichotomy of political belief is usually understood as covering political belief from left-wing to right-wing. A great many people have recognised the close resemblance between the regimes of German National Socialism and Soviet Communism. The fundamental political dichotomy is between those political systems based on theoretic-republican ideas and those based on realist metaphysics and classical natural law. Two quite different societies evolve from these bases.

Now the ardent Marxist may howl in protest at his views being subsumed under the bourgeois theories of the Enlightenment—let alone being grouped with Nazism. It is not possible, nor necessary, to demonstrate in this space the affinity of Marxism with the core tenets of the Enlightenment. Let me observe that Marxism is akin to a symphonic treatment of the essential Enlightenment themes. Regardless of its journey through the Hegelian dialectic, it ended up as a materialist dialectic with the same implications as the brotherly theories it squabbles with. Above all, the materialist dialectic of Marxism sanctified hatred as a legitimate weapon in bringing about the dissolution of inimical class structures and the advance of a state of insoluble freedom and equality.                     

Bernie Taft, former leader of the Communist Party of Australia, knew who his true brothers were. He said on the death of B. A. Santamaria, Australia’s foremost Catholic political leader, that while Santamaria (allegedly) supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War, he (Taft) ‘was contemplating joining the International Brigades that fought on the side of the republic’ (The Age, 26 February 1998).


The task of the theoretic-republican media is essentially to provide the propaganda of the ruling elite, not to disseminate information. In this task, it must be particularly on guard to contain attempts to promote ideas that are incompatible with the authority-phobic formed society. As I have said, such ideas are connected to systems outside the free and equal subject’s invention. The most dangerous onset of these ideas sometimes comes with the rise of a figure with an unexpected appeal to the masses. At other times, it comes with increasing admiration for somebody who either belongs to the vestiges of traditional arrangements or for somebody who projects a traditional ‘decency’. In the first case, the sudden rise of a popular figure with unacceptable ideas is a danger precisely because that person has escaped the instruments of the ruling elite’s authority—for the moment. It is even more dangerous if that person challenges aspects of the ruling class’s ideology. The role of the media is to control the influence of such a ‘populist’ figure.

In the second case, the figures of traditional power and decency merely represent the ongoing task of the ruling elite to maintain a levelled society. Such figures are more easily controlled than those of the first. However, the measures for containing both types of problems are the same. Theoretic-republicanism is constantly promulgated as the face of the reasonable, moderate, compassionate human person. The organs of theoretic-republicanism are keen to project the image of reason as the sole guide in organising society. However, when it comes to countering opposing voices, the last thing we find is an impartial, reasoned response to those voices. The theoretic-republican media will fabricate its version of the dissenting ideas and proceed to smear at every opportunity the dissenting person with the ideas it itself has manufactured.

The aim is not to counter the opposition with argument that would risk scrutiny of their own position and give collateral credibility to the other party. The aim is to discredit utterly any dissenting voices and to intimidate those who may be inclined to sympathy. In most cases, the fabrication of a smear campaign is backed by mockery and ridicule, and the accusation that the dissenting voice is ‘divisive’—one of the most serious crimes members of the levelled masses can commit. Anybody who deviates from the views of the ruling elite is ‘divisive’. The ‘debates’ by members of the ruling elite are either their smear campaigns or the allowable discussions within their ideological range. Members of the permitted ideological range are allowed to disagree—even vehemently. In this event, the partakers of the ‘debate’ congratulate themselves on their balance, tolerance, and commitment to democracy.

I am sure many people will be able to put names to the image of the types of dissenting persons described here. However, in this brief work, I am concerned with the second type of dangerous dissenter the theoretic-republican media moves against. The people I have in mind as continuing victims of such tactics are Prince/King Charles, the late Cardinal George Pell, and former conservative prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard. A full discussion of the media’s treatment of John Howard must be left to another time. Let me make some short comments to illustrate what I have said.

John Howard’s most unacceptable problem was that he espoused traditional standards of decency. In other words, he had the fatal liability of openly proclaiming an order of morality prior to human devices—or, more importantly, prior to the fabrication of the ruling elite. John Howard’s moral and political vision differed from the ‘vision’ of the ruling class—and that’s equivalent to having no vision. At the end of 1997 and into 1998, we witnessed the theoretic-republican media running this theme hard against John Howard. The image of John Howard as the weak, vacillating, visionless, bigoted figure was promoted with all the vigour the ruling class could muster. If anybody looks reasonably at John Howard’s career as a politician, one cannot escape the picture of a man with a high degree of tenacity, courage, and single-mindedness in pursuing a clear moral and political vision, however much one would disagree with that political vision. Added to this was a decency of character that was an obvious embarrassment to the leaders of a theoretic-republican media instrument.

Now, some people may think, ‘Hang on. John Howard was the Prime Minister of Australia. He was head of the government; therefore, he must have been the head of the ruling class.’ This is just the sort of confusion found among ordinary people. It should be clear from what I have written that the vestiges of the traditional ruling authority are not to be identified with the structure of the ruling class in Australia. Let me be plain: our traditional parliamentary democracy was formed over a long period, and many factors contributed to it. It is not analysable into a series of rationalistic propositions—even though that’s how the oligarchs like to present it. The written Australian Constitution is one side of the broader Constitution of our social and political arrangements, much of it remaining unwritten but clear in conventions, habits, customs, etc.

Only the vestiges of Australia’s parliamentary democracy are still effective. The true rulers have formed a virtual oligarchy subsisting in the vital organs of the Australian state and society and in the many new clubs, associations and especially ‘government’ bodies that have been generated like cancerous spots. These latter have been formed outside the perimeters of our traditionally formed parliamentary democracy but fatally infect it. The pervasiveness of their presence and the extent of the implementation of their theoretic-republican mentality are tragically evident in such supreme matters as the Mabo Judgement and the many UN conventions imposed upon us. The Mabo Judgement and the theoretic-republican Native Title Act from which it sprung represent the most striking break from Australia’s Constitution in the broad sense, shaking the Australian nation to its very foundations. It was always the plan and purpose of the theoretic-republican class.

The virtual oligarchy prevailing over and structured within the Australian nation is not ‘perfect’, and it’s not meant to be. Again, the oligarchy’s reconstitutive mode (i.e. the fluid ability to continually reconstitute inimical social and political forms and deal with the inevitable recalcitrant) is of absolute importance. There will always be people resisting indoctrination or threatening to break out of the mould established for them. John Howard was a great thorn in the side of the ruling class. He represents all they despise. Nevertheless, his rise to the pre-eminent position in our traditional form of government did not mean escaping their control. He was still their prisoner. The policies he drove hard were compromised in an attempt to escape the claws of the theoretic-republican media.


If Australia’s oligarchic class despised John Howard and all he stood for, there was the consolation that they derived a lot of use and satisfaction from his dogged presence in Australia’s social and political life. He was not out of their control, and, best of all, he served as a sort of case study for their theoretic republican ideas—as a propaganda board on which to bounce off their most important principles. He may have caused deep distaste, but the oligarch’s forbearance was rewarded with the propaganda value and the capacity for the theoretic-republican media to fill their pages with the necessary lessons for the masses. Prince Charles, however, was another problem entirely.

Everything about Prince Charles was the source of unremitting distress for the authority-phobic mind. It saw in Charles all it could never be. The theoretic-republican subject stands stripped of all that makes him a person and a citizen of a particular time and place. All the riches of the human mind and spirit objectified in an array of art and tradition have been cast aside to leave him grasping at a set of abstract propositions to hide his self-revolting nakedness. Whereas Prince Charles, now King Charles, without any choice whatever on his part, was allotted a duty from the moment of his birth to when he departed this world. Without any choice, he sits atop a vast cultural panorama stretching back through the centuries.

Even if the cultural panorama disappears from the sight of the individual linked to a particular time and place, anybody who has not blinded himself or who has not thrown off his heritage can look to a figure that objectifies a rich and glorious past. The ordinary Australian, not confused by a stay in the seminaries of theoretic-republicanism, can look at the objectification that is King Charles and the royal family and feel the glories of a past that have contributed to making him and his nation what they are in a particular place and time. The poor, denuded theoretic-republican has blocked the avenues to the heart, and it is in the realm of the heart where man lives life to the richest. It is in the realm of the heart that the citizen can look over and beyond the person of King Charles at his own cultural heritage. The frustrated theoretic-republican armed with his abstract propositions about freedom and equality can only stand by and watch uncomprehendingly as the masses display their unabated affection for Britain’s royal family despite all the mistakes and blunders some members of the royal family have made during the last three decades.

The theoretic-republican’s obsessive efforts in the world’s media to re-educate the masses and rid them of their ignorance regarding royalty have been irritatingly ineffective. Why haven’t the people been turned off by the exposition of the individual weaknesses of the members of the royal family? Surely, the (highly illegal) taped phone conversations of Prince Charles and Diana would have made them so ridiculous that nobody could believe that such royalty is ‘above’ the ordinary person. But the ordinary person intuitively distinguishes between the mere human person and the royal person that symbolises and objectifies so much of what he feels about himself and his social environment. We know that Prince Charles, in one sense, was merely a person with the same frail nature as ourselves, but we place him in another sense above ourselves.

When the media bring to our attention what we did not want to know, when they describe and exploit every minor fault of the royal person, they do not cause the culturally confident to despise him. They arouse sympathy and sorrow in the uncorrupted mind that the royal person has been unable to uphold his duty, that his heavy load has caused him to falter. Indeed, the sympathy overcomes the usual impulse to punish, and what remains is the wish for the royal person to rise above his mistakes, to keep continually in mind that he is not just himself, but in a transcendent manner, he is ‘the people’. He has the duty of raising not only himself above his frailties but the people he embodies. To punish the king is, in a sense, to execute the social and cultural self. That is why, in past ages, regicide was considered such a horrible crime.

The royal person who is there as a point in the cultural continuum has achieved what the theoretic-republican mind aspires to but can never achieve: the royal person has, in a figurative way, transcended his physical limits. That also explains why the most ‘ignorant’ of ordinary folk feel that God instituted kingship in the act of creating human society. Cutting down the king and ‘all the solemn plausibilities’ of life surrounding him is ultimately the act of cutting off the sources of life. But even if we are constantly forced to think about the mere human person that was Prince and now King Charles, what do we see really—I mean, really? Let’s leave aside the magisterium of ridicule and slander built up by the media over the years. I am a little older than Prince Charles, and if I look back through the years, I see that there was always Prince Charles there. I remember the nuns at the local Sisters of Mercy convent talking about him affectionately. A picture of him was displayed at the back of one of the classrooms. That would have been in 1954.

During those years, my impressions were of a rather quiet, polite, and well-brought-up boy. If this projects a weak, unattractive picture in the 2000s, it was different in the 1950s. Quietness, good manners and respect were held to be good qualities. The worst types in society were the loud, ill-mannered, and vulgar because such people were intrinsically self-oriented and uncaring about their social environment. In other words, they were poorly educated. To be well-mannered was to pay the respect due to your family, friends, ancestors, and those in necessary authority. It was the Roman Pietas. To be quiet and well-mannered was not a sign of weakness or subservience—quite the opposite. To remain well-mannered in the most trying situations was a sign of inner strength. In terms of the turbulent male spirit, remaining in control of oneself in extreme provocation and taking firm but appropriate action was considered manly.

As Prince Charles grew older, these seemed to be the qualities he most exemplified. The display of arrogance and superiority with which the vulgar theoretic-republican mind characterises the state of being royal was entirely absent in Prince Charles. We Australians had the opportunity to see him close by during his stay at Timbertop. Not only did he display the admirable qualities of a bygone age, but he seemed to be at pains to express his genuine admiration and affection for the Australian nation and its people. As he approached adulthood, I can remember a natural easiness of manner that became gradually evident in his conversations about and with Australian people.

Far from ‘lording it’ over us as a colony of Great Britain, Prince Charles seemed to have more than a genuine affection for Australia; he seemed to identify with the best qualities of the nation and its people. His contact with Australia was determining in his formation. He was, to no small extent, Australianised. The easy but polite manner with which he spoke has, I believe, its origins in his time in Australia. We have seen King Charles many times since those days and nobody who can tell the truth can claim that a stuffy, arrogant, and superior manner characterised his behaviour. Even in the most trying circumstances—when many celebrities throw punches and tantrums—Prince/King Charles maintained an open, accessible, and tolerating manner.

When it came to Diana, Princess of Wales, most of us knew little about her and her background. All we saw on the TV reports was an attractive, unpretentious, but obviously well-brought-up young woman. There were already glimpses of that honesty of heart that came to characterise her behaviour through the years. But when Prince Charles chose her as his bride, her royal background through him opened before us. The courtship and the royal wedding were all that the natural understanding of the ordinary person could wish for. Many people spoke about the fairytale union of a prince and a princess. Diana seemed admirably to fill the needs of the crown prince of the Commonwealth—and eager to do so. Alas, none of us knew that it was the beginning not of a beautiful fairytale but of a Greek tragedy in which both the prince and the princess were inexorably sucked into the dark chasms that opened before their every move. There was to be no escape.

Leaving aside the efforts of the theoretic-republican media to create a body of ridicule and slander about Prince/King Charles, there remains the question of how much the Prince and Princess and how much the circumstances contributed to their problems. No marriage could withstand the scrutiny that Charles and Diana had to endure. To be constantly the object of attention, to have one’s words and actions analysed continuously, to have one’s image constantly relayed around the world, was a burden that nobody ever had to endure and could endure. But then, to have added the foul and unscrupulous behaviour of the paparazzi, directed by the media bosses, this amounted to a new type of public execution where the observed pain is far more exquisite than any guillotine or slashing Islamic sword could deliver.

Given all this, I think it is almost impossible to quantify the contribution of both individuals to their marriage breakdown. As individual people, they both certainly had their faults. In particular, it is now clear that Diana brought a set of unresolved emotional problems to her marriage. Her disrupted emotional growth impeded a healthy discrimination of social obligation in the very different social contexts in which one finds oneself. She seemed to want to apply the same rules of behaviour in all possible situations. Some people would call this immaturity. I will come back to this again and again in examining the way Diana behaved. The combination of Diana’s problems with the necessary training for public life Prince Charles had to undergo was explosive. But in the absence of the unbearable pressures they were under, how likely was it that they would have successfully overcome the problems? Some couples manage to grow and rise above difficult incompatibilities. We will never know. In what follows, I will look more closely at the character and behaviour of Prince Charles and Diana in relation to the media commentaries.


I have sketched the fundamentals of theoretic-republicanism. I have discussed how these ideas rid human behaviour of any moral touchstone. The jettisoning in principle of any objective laws governing society and individual human behaviour leaves the standards of behaviour to a public or state decision about what is to be implemented or imposed as standards. Standards of individual and public behaviour are ultimately imposed by the prevailing force—whether individual or corporate. The great modern paradox is that the imposed force is born of an uncompromising set of abstract propositions about radical individual freedom.

The object of examining how the media as a group dealt with the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, is to show how the fundamental principles of theoretic-republicanism are implemented in a particular case, how closely they are connected with the protection of hierarchy and power, and especially how they are manipulated to justify social and political discourse that is the very opposite of fair-minded reasoning. In this context, I will examine how the articles, commentaries, editorials, and reports are linked on each of the days immediately following Diana’s death—and how they formed a campaign to reach certain predetermined objectives. I have concentrated on the Murdoch media, but their bias was no different from that of the general media. As I said, the media acted as one in the attempt to crush Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and the British Royal House.

Those familiar with the thoughts of Edmund Burke will recognise that the above is a Burkean analysis of the events surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Indeed, a few sentences are almost verbatim from his writings on the French Revolution. Below are two passages reflecting his thoughts about how a society or a nation naturally develops.

He [Edmund Burke] has never professed himself a friend or an enemy to republics or to monarchies in the abstract. He thought that the circumstances and habits of every country, which it is always perilous and productive of the greatest calamities to force, are to decide upon the form of its government.  
An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs (1791)

No man ever was attached by a sense of pride, partiality, or real affection to a description of square measurement. He never will glory in belonging to the Chequer No. 71, or to any other badge-ticket. We begin our public affections in our families. No cold relation is a zealous citizen. We pass on to our neighborhoods and our habitual provincial connections. These are inns and resting places. Such divisions of our country as have been formed by habit, and not by a sudden jerk of authority, were so many little images of the great country in which the heart found something which it could fill. The love to the whole is not extinguished by this subordinate partiality.
Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)


Chapter 3

Diana is Killed

Sunday, 31 August 1997

THE DEATH OF Diana, Princess of Wales, is one of those events most people never forget—like the deaths of President Kennedy and Elvis Presley. You always remember precisely what you were doing when the news broke. I still remember waking up to hear the radio news of President Kennedy’s assassination (1963) all those years ago. I still feel the atmosphere of our house, the solemn music playing on the radio, the grave voices of the news reports, and the apprehension and anxiety surrounding me. I would never have suspected I would react in a similar way to Diana’s death—even considering the terrible way her life was snuffed out.

At around 10.20 a.m. on Sunday, 31 August, Australian time, I walked into my sister’s lounge room with my elderly parents. My brother, his wife, and another sister were looking intently at the television. ‘Princess Diana’s been in an accident,’ my brother said, bewildered. Just then, the newsreader was repeating a news flash. Diana and Dodi had been in an accident. Dodi was dead, and Diana seriously injured. We stared in silence. Flicking from channel to channel, we watched the news reports from still-darkened European capitals until they announced Diana was dead. We were shocked. It was about 2.00 p.m. on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Sydney. Later that afternoon, I spoke to several people who had not seen the television reports. ‘Have you heard the news about Diana?’ They reacted with stunned, silent shock. In the following days, millions worldwide from all countries and cultures would be in shock.

When I think back to that Sunday, I remember two thoughts occupying my mind. The first was about Prince Charles’s feelings. How would he be reacting? He must have been devastated. At the same time, I thought of the persecution Charles and Diana had suffered from the media through the years. So many times, I had exclaimed that nobody could endure the spiteful hounding these two faced almost daily. Nobody, not even the most persevering saint, could survive the constant scrutiny, the harassment, the gossip-mongering, the mockery, the ridicule, and the lies dogging their every move.

One enduring image in the immediate aftermath of Diana’s death was of Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, walking up the driveway to the front gates of his residence in South Africa and reading the following statement:

This is not a time for recrimination, but for sadness. However, I would say that I always believed the press would kill her in the end. Not even I could imagine that they would take such a direct hand in her death, as seems to be the case. It would appear that every proprietor and editor of every publication that has paid for intrusive and exploitative photographs of her, encouraging greedy and ruthless individuals to risk everything in pursuit of Diana’s image, has blood on his hands today.

I could find nobody who disagreed—the opposite. People were in enthusiastic agreement. The media were responsible at all levels. They had the choice of hounding or not hounding Diana. They had the choice of paying or not paying for intrusive pictures. It was the photographers’ decision to walk up and take the photos. They ignored the pleading for respect, sympathy, and understanding. It was the copy editor and the picture editor’s decision to run their intrusive stories and pictures. They ignored appeals to leave families in peace. What more can be said about the moral aspect of media hounding? 

The media, as a collective, choose to ignore all moral prescriptions about privacy, sympathy, understanding, respect, and goodwill. Most people see the media as a pack of hyenas who constantly gorge themselves on the lives of others to fill pages of newspapers and costly airtime on radio and television. And they are right. Money and power to serve ideological purposes are the motivation—not an idealistic and relentless pursuit of the truth. The always serviceable ‘free speech’ arguments are the impregnable shield for the media’s money-grubbing actions. When truth appears, it is merely coincidental. We need to look no further than at what happened after the Mercedes carrying Diana, Dodi and their two security men crashed at high speed into a concrete pillar in Paris’s Alma tunnel.

Was that the occasion for the human breast to take over? Was that the time for the human person to take pause, to drop the camera to the ground, to take stock of the human tragedy and to struggle to hold back tears of remorse? Not even a bit. It was the time for the pack of media hyenas to go into a frenzy at the sight of the broken bodies in the Mercedes. Tourists and police testified. The media swarmed over the accident scene, snarling and savaging anybody who wanted to restrain them. Amid the scrambling around the smashed car, two clicked and snapped until they filled their film rolls and then fled the scene. Shortly after, at the Laurent Sola photo agency, three figures were almost beside themselves as their eyes dashed from photo to photo of the 30 to 40 snaps of the mangled crash scene. Some clear shots showed the fatally injured princess. The international bargaining over the princess’s body began.

But the frenzied bargaining across continental Europe and the Atlantic came to an abrupt stop. When the backlash against the media started in those countries bathing in the full afternoon sun of 31 August, the media chiefs took fright. They withdrew from the bargaining, fearing for their livelihoods. Then, coming forward with hands over their breasts, they said they would never entertain publishing such photos in the circumstances. Understandably, Laurent Sola was indignant that only his greed and abject lack of moral feeling should be put on display.

Anger at the media pervaded all my thinking for the next few days. I was not alone. The number of people worldwide sharing my thoughts and feelings about the treatment Diana received made me think for a while that perhaps the media would back off. Maybe the newspapers would at least show some contrition for appearance’s sake. There would be no such display of contrition. Only scrambling to justify their actions. I followed the newspaper reports mainly in The Australian, but all other media instruments I read followed the same reporting lines. By Wednesday, 3 September, my indignation had reached a peak. The collection of reports deflecting the blame from the media and attacking Prince Charles and the royal family in that edition so riled me that I sat down and dashed off a letter to the editor.

It was a fiery piece accusing the Australian of hypocrisy and misrepresentation, of self-serving ideology and self-aggrandizement, of using the death of Princess Diana to promote a particular political agenda (republicanism) and especially to advance the material interests of the Murdoch media empire. The editor may well run reports of the worldwide anger directed at the paparazzi, but in reality, the paparazzi were there to do the dirty work for those on high. They and their media masters formed a redoubtable team. I did not send this letter. I thought the letter editor would have had no time for a member of the public who appeared unaware of the nature of fame and the media’s relationship with famous people. That angry letter, though, raised substantial points that I will develop. As I have already given sign, I will argue on the evidence of Diana’s killing that the media is pervasively ideological and that ideology for the media has as its aim power, money, and political ascendancy.

I will not take the easy way out and seize on any old, discredited rag for my purposes. Instead, I will focus on the Australian (of 1995), considered one of Australia’s foremost newspapers and a champion in the worldwide Murdoch stable. I should point out that the Australian of 1995 markedly differed from the Australian of 2024, for which journalists of the highest integrity and professionalism write. During the week following Diana’s death, the Australian drew on News Corp media worldwide, including the Times, London. For my purposes, I will examine the editions of the Australian from 1 September to 9 September 1997, but with reference to other pertinent reports.


End of sample chapters

* * *

Return to non-fiction page

Issues of manliness