In the mid to late 1980s some of the agenda of economic rationalism had gained bipartisan support (against hysterical resistance from both sides of politics). However as Michael James (sometime editor of CIS Policy and later Agenda) pointed out, social democrats only wanted deregulation of the economy to generate more revenue for their Big Government and Nanny State agendas, as Tony Blair demonstrated in a spectacular manner.
So far as the battle of ideas was concerned it was apparent that we (classical liberals) could win every single philosophical and economic debate and still our broader agenda would not be understood among the general public or get to first base in the political program of the Coalition parties as long as the left dominated the cultural and intellectual agenda by occupying the key institutions for promulgation of opinion. The schools, the universities, the ABC and most of the mainstream media, many of the policy and planning units of the public service, the whole array of taxpayer-funded agencies of the grievance industries and last but not least the literary/cultural classes who write the books and the poems, produce (and review) the films and the plays and the book festivals that impact on most people rather more than the occasional publications of the CIS and the IPA.
Of course the CIS and the IPA and others have not been idle on this front but we are still deep inside the red zone and we need something like a 40/20 to get out of it.
Getting back to 1987 or thereabouts, I was inspired by the example of someone called Browning (Robert Browning?) not the poet but a man in Victoria who studied the structure of all the consumer protection and advocacy groups. He found that a handfull of people turned up on multiple boards and committees, demonstrating that small numbers of people can make a big difference when they have the right (left and ALP) connections. A similar study of many other networks of left-dominated activists in the public and NGO sector would be equally revealing.
Cutting to the chase, I had no funding or institutional base for this work but I had a look at the editors and support staff and boards of the “little magazines” that played the role of the blogs to circulate non-mainsteam opinions in the old days. Some of them have gone, notably the Age Monthly Review and many of the people have gone as well, so people who are not poor and old will see a lot of unfamiliar names. This does not have much significance at present, just a historical snapshot that some may find interesting.
Moving on to the Third Millenium, the internet provides a medium where pamphleteers no longer depend on the Gestetner machines and the postal service, and letter boxes. We can now pursue the cultural agenda on line to tell people about forgotten or under-rated thinkers and writers. Such as Jacques Barzun, Yvor Winters and James Mcauley, Liam Hudson, Karl and Charlotte Buhler and Rene Wellek, Peter Bauer, Ian Suttie and William Hutt.