IPA Speech by Professor Ian Plimer

23 January 2016
Ian Plimer

The Institute of Public Affairs should not exist! There is no reason why we should have in a Western democratic society an organisation to protect freedom, liberty, free trade, democracy and our Western values. It is an Institute of Common Sense, an unnecessary organisation. It is only necessary because we have had a long process of erosion of our society. Marxism as a political system failed in the Soviet Union and other countries but it was very successful as an ideology in the schools, universities and media, especially the public funded ABC. Ask me, I’ve been there and seen it in action during decades in universities. We have seen the dumbing down of the education system to the stage whereby history has no value.

Our civilisation has had a tortuous 2,500 year history. In was in ancient Greek times that logic and science were first conceived as a method of understanding the world. Some of the science was not correct but it was a start. The Romans then gave us the law. For the first time law was written down and this Justinian law is still with us. The following Dark Ages were a dreadful time when knowledge was lost, there was famine, war and a breakdown of systems. At present we may be entering a new dark age because we are abandoning all of the benefits of the 2,500 year evolution of Western Civilisation and have no knowledge of the history of a very difficult road that no other civilisation has had. We are an advanced superior culture and we are giving this away to Marxist thought.

After the Dark Ages, we entered a glorious time. It was warm, most years yielded two harvests, and there was wealth and health. This natural period of warming led to excess of wealth which was spent on building cathedrals, monasteries and universities. People started to live longer, there were fewer wars and people ate better. At the start of the Little Ice Age, a period of natural cooling, there was the Renaissance. It was cold, people died like flies, there was famine, war and disease. Artists were coming to terms with mortality and the great masterpieces of the Renaissance were religious paintings expressing the times. No other culture has had such a period. This time was followed by the Reformation which heralded a marvellous invention.

It was movable type. Although the Chinese had earlier invented movable type with wooden blocks, in Europe printing using metal blocks was invented. This meant that pamphlets and books could be widely circulated and authority, especially that of the church, started to be challenged. All of a sudden, the power of words was not held by the state or the church and this great expansion of ideas and communication led to the Enlightenment. During the Enlightenment, the freedoms evolved from earlier times allowed inventions. The greatest invention was to use that wonderful substance coal and use it to generate cheap energy. All of a sudden, people were no longer serfs tied to the land and owned by a feudal lord and muscles were now no longer basis of the power needed for producing food.

There was work in factories, mines, canals and the growing railway system. People moved from their villages to elsewhere, workers were able to travel and workers went to the seaside for visits and holidays. For this, trains were needed. And for this, timetables were needed and for this a watch was needed. At that time there were 19 different time zones in England and it was coal that forced one time zone in England. The use of coal led to our current democratic systems, travel, longevity, better health and more wealth. This one single black substance changed the Western world and was part of our growth to modern Western civilisation. At that time, inventions were protected by patents and inventors could either make money or go broke. Inventions related to new ways of using energy bound in coal underpinned the Industrial Revolution and led to modern society. There is a yearning, especially amongst the greens, for the “good old days”. Don’t give me the “good old days”, they weren’t.

In today’s world, those risk-takers, inventors and creators of wealth are treated very much differently. Rather being lauded as they were in the past and should be at present, they are pilloried. We heard earlier about the late Professor Bob Carter. He was pilloried for expressing common sense, for asking questions and using his science to question whether humans can actually change climate by their actions. I am sure that the never-ending stress of constant attacks affected his health and led to his early death. There are those in this room that suffer a similar constant barrage of criticism. Bob was supported generously by the Institute of Public Affairs and Mrs Rinehart.

Anyone who generates wealth in Australia has to suffer vitriolic vulgar criticism. Mrs Rinehart is one of those. She has created jobs where they previously did not exist, she has generated wealth from rocks for the nation and she has taken risks, invested her own money and been successful. And what is the response? Constant criticism by those that benefit from her job-creation activities. What on earth is wrong with Australia where we criticise someone for making the country a better place? Mrs Rinehart is a great Australian. She is probably the greatest entrepreneur that Australia has ever seen and is certainly the greatest woman that Australia has ever produced. And the response is to attack her. She is generally unacknowledged in the Australian public for her great contributions from which all Australians benefit despite the shackles of bureaucracy, over-regulation and red and green tape. Those on the other side should be eternally grateful and be lauding a woman who has done and continues to do so much for Australia. We have declined as a society where success is met with vulgarity from the media and other institutions.

We are all here today because we give something back to society. This is a remnant of Western Christianity that has not yet been destroyed by Marxists. We give something back, quietly. And this differentiates us from the other side. We are confident and know who we are, where we come from and the role of Western Civilisation. We actually stand for something. We are now so advanced that we can live in safety, a luxury many other cultures don’t have. Who is threatening us here? The threats are from inside and the main threat is the ignorance of history. When, as an older person, I try to discuss with young people the role of coal, minerals, our Western Civilisation and the comforts and safety we all enjoy, I am met with rolling eyes, yawns and I can see that they think I am an old fart. We are not the future. We have constructed the environment for the future, such as Mrs Rinehart, who has created generational employment where it no longer existed. It concerns me that the environment we have created for the future is being destroyed after 2,500 years of evolutionary growth. The future is in the hands of the young people in the Institute of Public Affairs. These young people are confident, such good public communicators and are not afraid to espouse the views of common sense, freedom, liberty and free markets. Our views, the views of those who support our system of Western democracy, are the views of the majority and are denigrated by the minority social engineers.

The difference between the people here and those on the other side is that we are positive, that we have a knowledge of the past, that we take risks and may gain rewards and that we quietly give something back to society. This contrasts with those on the other side who are vapid, vulgar, and critical of success, suffer from envy and give nothing back to society. All they can do is criticise. All they can do is to cut down those who are contributing. All they can do is to break down society and offer no tangible alternatives. It is heartening to see so many people here as supporters of the IPA, an unnecessary organisation. I thank Mrs Rinehart for coming from the other side of the continent for this occasion, I thank you for attending and I thank the IPA for standing up to basic fundamentals which we all take for granted.

Courtesy of the IPA & Prof Ian Plimer

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