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In Defence of “Abbott’s Form of Social Engineering”

Image by mad

Image by mad

My recent piece “The Abbott Form of Social Engineering” seems to have struck a chord with a number of people. Mostly the comments have been positive however some observations have been critical. This of course is to be welcomed because none of us has an ownership of righteousness. So writers at The AIMN welcome considered critique. As an example fellow writer Dan Bowden, whose work I have much respect for, said this about my piece.

“We’re all social engineers. Labor engages in social engineering as much as anyone. It all depends on one’s socio-political ideology as to whether we like it or not.”

We went on to have a short exchange.


“True Dan. It is however a question of degree and intent and of course what serves the common good. I think one has to search ones conscience to find where that is.”


“Oh, I agree with that totally. Complications arise, however, with respect to things like the notion of “common good”. There being no objective way to define such a thing, there will always be a battleground on which differences of perspective will fight for supremacy. Life is, in many respects, a battle of values. Questions of ethics of engagement with regard to “war” have always haunted humanity and will continue to do so forever, I suspect. What we’re seeing from the Coalition currently gives us a bit of an insight into how far they’ll go to win.”


“If I might clear one thing up. The title of the piece is “Abbots Form of Social Engineering”. The title itself acknowledges other forms. Dan is correct in saying it is practiced by other political ideologies, corporations, institutions ourselves and even the advertising industry. I used the term “Common Good” as a thought of demarcation. If Labor’s form results in National Health, Superannuation. Marbo, Equal pay for women, an apology to our indigenous people, equality in education, sexual equality and Disability Insurance. Policies that serve the common good. Then that form of social engineering is worthwhile.”

Then I read some rather extensive comments from a person by the name of Mitch. Who Mitch is I have no idea and generally speaking I prefer talking to people who identify themselves. At least it gives them credibility of identity. Mitch’s comments are abusive in so much as he mixes his criticism of the substance of my piece with personal invective.

Normally I don’t respond to tirades from unidentifiable morons, but I have always believed that sometimes one has to stand on one’s dig and speak up. What follows is the full text of Mitch’s comments with my response in bold type.


Is this article not a piece of social engineering unto itself?
Stating that social engineering is a realm confined only to that of politicians/political parties is the first piece of misinformation you are enacting that reinforces the notion that this article is indeed your own (somewhat limited attempt)at social engineering. More over social engineering is a tool often associated with those seeking to use psychological manipulation to commit fraudulent acts. Quite fitting when reading this article. For mine this article reeks of hypocrisy as ideologically it seems evident that you feel that your political stance (extrême-gauche) is the only one that holds true to modern Australia. I’m not too sure how this fits into your definition of “democratic”.

Obviously Mitch did not take the time to read the companion pieces to this one, otherwise he would have a broader grasp of my argument. Nowhere in my piece do I state that social engineering was the sole domain of politics. The title of the piece itself suggests there are others. Perhaps Mitch skipped the title and didn’t read people’s comments.

Why is it so irresponsible for the government of the day to discuss the notion that debt, in an uncertain global economic climate is something that they ideologically believe might leave Australia vulnerable structurally to changing headwinds? Why is it so offensive to mention boat arrivals and border security in the same sentence? Why can’t we have a discussion about cost of living pressures and seeking to implement measure to ease such pressures (if you don’t feel there are cost burdens on families these days then I am afraid you are simply a pseudo academic who is not in touch with reality)? Seemingly your point of view is the only one that has any merit moving forward, all the while implementing rhetoric to reinforce this and perpetuate your gross manipulation. The phrase social engineering springs to mind.

1. Nowhere do I say it is irresponsible to discuss debt. I was pointing out the hypocrisy of the government condemning debt on the one hand and raising it at the same time. 2. I didn’t tie boat arrivals together with border security. I simple said that it is silly to suggest that our thousands of miles of coastline are under threat from a few unarmed asylum seekers. 3. Yes I said Australians have never had it better. That includes this pensioner who is grateful for the rises that ONLY Labor has given us. Perhaps Mitch is confused with the cost of lifestyle as opposed to the cost of living. 4. I will skip the personal inflection. Often our opinion are based on our values rather than our understanding and the difficulty is separating the two.

A theme of this article appears to be that Abbott Co are seeking to implement some form of class warfare aimed at breaking the backs of lower and middle income earners through adjustments to various mechanisms of social welfare whilst ensuring high income earners are given tax benefits that would befit the tea party. Further to this noting “when the commission of audit reports I should think the assault on the middle and lower income earners will be on in earnest” A blatant attempt to create a perceived fear of something that may never occur. Social Engineering?

I supplied the evidence to suggest this is the case. You use the expression ‘’ adjustments to various mechanisms of social welfare’’ I was talking wages. You are just making words up to fit your argument. There has been much talk of this in the media. Perhaps you missed it all. And it’s reasonable to assume based on the evidence thus far that whatever cuts occur, they will not be directed at the rich or big business.

Commentators such as you seem determined to spell out a yawning divide in the Australian political spectrum, when in fact I think any informed/rational individual would take a more moderate approach that in general terms we all sit slightly left or right of centre. But invariably are open to crossing the floor depending on the subject matter, personally for me gay marriage is a “no brainer” and should be legislated ASAP as to move on to other pressing issues. Individuals such as yourself however seem adamant that Armageddon is about to ensue because a moderate conservative is our prime minister and you are more than happy to use misinformation and deception to convey your opinion. This is social engineering.

If you think Tony Abbott is a moderate conservative leader and that the LNP are the parties of bygone years then you must occupy some sort of time warp. Robert Menzies would turn in his grave at the doctrine of neo conservatism. Malcolm Fraser describes him as the most dangerous politician in Australia. You don’t identify my misinformation and deception so I cannot comment. Now isn’t that deceptive.

Your most blatant and insidious manipulation of the truth is “The very premeditated, deliberate government induced exodus of GMH”. This is by far the most unashamed attempt at Social Engineering by trying to influence the attitudes of the masses through pure fallacy. This statement is simply not true but further to this why is it our responsibility as tax payers to prop up an industry that has not and in all likelihood will never be profitable? I would have thought these funds would be better used to initiate structural change to ensure the viability of our economy on a holistic level as well as creating sustainable industry meaning improved job security for an entire nation. Not throw good money after bad so the saying goes. But more importantly this was clearly not the decision of the government. This aside you seem to be very forgetful of what the previous government did with Ford and Mitsubishi.

1.You were obviously not watching question time on Tuesday 10 December when the treasurer and the Deputy PM both unashamedly suggested they go. This was well documented by the media. Perhaps you don’t read or watch the news. 2. I never mentioned the rights or wrongs of the argument. You have.3 The decisions of Ford and Mitsubishi to leave our shores were made during the tenure of the Howard Government and executed during Labors term.

I think an underlying life principle that you do not seem not to understand is that if you cannot afford something, you simply can’t afford it. NBN is a prime example of this. It was poorly costed, poorly implemented and poorly run. Why is it so shocking when something that is going to cost as much as the NBN does for the government to say “wait a minute this is too much we can’t afford this”? This in comparison to the “there will be no carbon tax” lie is comparing apples with oranges. The former being an honest appraisal and to say otherwise is to go to the fraudulent nature of this article. This is social engineering.

1. I never mentioned affordability. I spoke of inequality. 2. When the former Prime Minister said “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism”, “I rule out a carbon tax”, did she actually tell a lie? Clearly she showed an intent to keep her options open. You have been influenced by Abbots social engineering.

The final insult you throw us is to put your name alongside and truly great minds like Thatcher, Lincoln and Roosevelt indicating that you are nothing but an ill-informed narcissist seeking to spread fallacy and singular opinion in your own vain attempt at social engineering. It would appear that you are indeed a hypocrite.

I will leave you to ponder:

You make no mention of my quote and its worthiness or otherwise to stand alongside the others. Instead you attack me as an individual you disagree with. I hear my family and friends laughing at the thought of me being a narcissist. And of course mine is a singular opinion. Is not what you have written, or did you have collaborators?

I welcome differing opinions however, I detest being attacked personally. Alas some people revert to their feeling when they can’t substantiate the facts.

Mitch (whoever you are) I have been as civil as I can be and leave you to ponder a couple of my quotes

“Perhaps a greater understanding of what I am saying might be obtained by exercising a greater willingness to think more deeply”.

“We have so much to gain from people we disagree with that it’s a wonder we don’t do it more often”.

PS: And my thanks to Kaye Lee who so adequately came to my defense in comments.

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  1. Keith

    I believe that PM Whitlam had been involved in social engineering, an example being trying to encourage people to move to regional areas. After Australia had languished under a number of Coalition Governments change was sorely required.
    The Abbott gang in my opinion are also involved in social engineering; they are in the process of pulling apart legislation created by PM Gillard, and plan to deregulate in a number of policy areas. An example being the repeal of a section of the Racial Discrimination Act. The outcome will be a meaner Australia in my opinion.
    John it is my observation that the neo cons use personal attacks when not able to readily place a rational argument against a point well put.

  2. Kaye Makovec

    I like these quotes on personal attacks and name calling and because I hate name calling and bad manners I use them often 🙂

    “If you can’t answer a man’s arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.” Elbert Hubbard.
    “Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society.”
    Alexander McCall Smith
    “Liberty cannot be preserved, if the manners of the people are corrupted.”
    Algernon Sidney

  3. Fed up

    John, those who support Abbott and his beliefs. have to work hard, to divert ones attention from what they do.

    They do have a agenda. One that only benefits the wealthy and big business.

    All the rest, are here to service their dream.

    One based on a pure capitalism, free market, ans survival of the fittest.

    No level playing field for this mob.

  4. silkworm

    Mitch is a troll. His “arguments” do not deserve respect.

  5. Kathy Sutherland

    Great response, John.

  6. dafid1

    John I read with interest and some degree of disbelief the responses to your excellent article on ‘Abbotts form of Social Engineering’ from the individual hiding under the name ‘Mitch’.
    As I read his/her pro Abbott indulgence I kept getting flash backs of an Opposition Leader, clad in fluro vest and hard hat, like some bad imitation of ‘Bob the Builder’, preaching his version of the destruction of the world under a Labor Govt, to the very workplaces he is now attempting to destroy. (In some instances succeeding).
    Then I reached Mitch’s crowning glory, the ultimate hypocrisy as he wrote to you “a blatant attempt to create a perceived fear of something that may never occur. Social Engineering?”. Kapow! in one soliid smite, poor disillusioned Mitch accused you of doing that which his beloved leader was guilty of for 3 years non stop. Every door stop, every well organised stunt, this phoney threatened the near destruction of life in this country forever more, if a Labor Govt was returned.
    Of course Labor wasn’t returned and for those who installed this puppet Prime Minister, they and we are seeing the start of the destruction Abbott threatened, seeing it under that human wrecking ball.
    Mitch I owe you one small debt of gratitude, you proved to me evil is alive and well and I am thankful when I voted on that Saturday in September, I tried to stop it.
    I will continue trying until it is eliminated.

  7. David Linehan

    I had used my name as opposed to Dafid1 however seems WordPress and I weren’t communicating so should have been David Linehan

  8. Kathy Williams-Devries

    Though Mitch seems to express himself more eloquently than your average troll. That that I agree with him, but he seems to have a fine command of the English language

  9. Kathy Williams-Devries

    I meant to say not, I don’t agree, but admire the way he said it

  10. Kaye Lee


    I find your writing inspirational. Combining original thought with facts and quotes from others, you develop an argument using a narrative that provokes both thought and emotion. Your ability to combine creativity with factual reporting and logical inference makes your posts both informative and a joy to read.

    Like you, I welcome criticism and invite debate, but if someone is going to present a critique they must back it up. If you are going to decry a course of action, give the reasons why and, even better, offer an alternative. The people who visit this site seem to all have something in common – we love to learn. I am not interested in invective. Teach me things, show me where I am wrong, help me understand a different view.

    Kathy, mitch used a lot of words to say nothing at all. John has the ability to say so much with a few well-chosen words. He makes the rest of us think.

  11. johnlord2013

    The highest compliment. Thank you.

  12. George Millwood

    Thank you for a well reasoned article that was a pleasure to read.

  13. Dan Rowden

    It’s worth pointing out that with respect to asylum seekers the Labor Party has been dancing hand in hand with the conservatives for years now. How do we explain that in the context of conservative social engineering? Is the Labor Party’s shift to the Right sufficient to do so? Or can we actually just dump that issue into the box labelled, “Shit we’ll do in order to get elected”?

  14. johnlord2013

    First rule of politics is to gain power and the second rule it to retain it. The means of doing so apply to both sides but Labor refuses to test if the electorate has a desire for decency and fairness on this issue. I wonder what might happen if they did.

  15. kathysutherland2013

    Dan, I agree with your categorisation of the Labor Party’s policies on asylum seekers, and I wish it were humane enough and brave enough to treat this issue as a human rights rather than a political issue!

  16. Kaye Lee

    I also agree re asylum seekers. I cry for the inhumanity, but even the mathematician and economist in me says THIS IS STUPID. It is not only the worst way to treat people, it is also the most expensive way, and the way that gets you worldwide condemnation and rightly so.

    I blame polls driven by Murdoch press, but beyond that I blame parties for allowing those things to dictate how our country is run and by whom, and I blame voters for not better informing themselves – though I have more sympathy for the voters than for the politicians and media who actually occupy positions relied upon to inform us and who are supposed to listen to experts and to make the best decision for the long term rather than an election next month.

    Since the voting population are worried about the amount of money being spent, lets show them how much cheaper it would be to treat these people humanely and with decency and dignity and to help them to become productive contributing members of our society – paying taxes rather than being in offshore detention.

    “If you want to stop the boats, use Qantas to fly them in” is the most sensible thing Clive Palmer ever said.

  17. Mitch

    Thank you to all those that sought to partake in this debate and thank you to John himself for his response. But it is quite apparent that none of you sought to address the underlying theme of my comment and all sought to respond on ideological (left vs. right) grounds. Might I suggest a more Socratic approach was necessary in order to more aptly respond?

    John has correctly pointed out that I did not read any of his previous work or indeed the comments that accompanied the article I critiqued. Upon reflection however I have taken the time to read some of the comments and I am certainly glad I did. I stumbled across one glaring piece of information that helps to reinforce the “hypocrisy” of the article and indeed the author himself. Noting Johns comment on 20/12/2013 at 12:26 in his original article “Policies that serve the common good. Then that form of social engineering is worthwhile.” I think it is safe to infer that John is “OK” with social engineering as long as the engineer has similar ideology as himself. But for those seeking to use it for a purpose he does not agree with, it then it becomes a sinister and dangerous act “My problem with the Abbott Government is that it has embarked on a programme that is ideologically targeted at changing the way we think”. I think the hypocrisy speaks for itself.

    In my original piece I sought to ask some questions as to bring to the fore some of the questions that those of a rational mind might ask and in no way (apart from my comments on GMH, NBN and cost of living pressures) was I stating personal opinion as to the merits of any. You all seemed quite willing to assume that in asking these questions I was unyielding in my mindset and not simply doing so as to purely make the point that there are two sides to any argument and it is hypocritical to suggest the other sides has no merit when quite often it does. However on my ideological stance which you have all lowered to be the focal point of the conversation and not the actual hypocrisy of the article itself, it would appear there are a few things that need to be cleared up.

    Firstly John I will say it again, I was mentioning “cost of living pressures” and not wages. regardless of how wages have increased and I agree that they have, but so to have “cost of living pressures”. Electricity is one glaring example. Further however could you please point out which word/words I made up?

    On Tuesday December 10 the Deputy PM and Treasurer “unashamedly suggested they go”. Is it not a logical thought process that if the writing is on the wall (GMH ceasing operations) why prolong the confirmation? In not prolonging this one might deduce that it has actually given certainty around an uncertain issue. Would it not then be fair to say that this announcement has allowed steps to be taken to manage the transition of something that was inevitably going to happen? As opposed to leaving a question lingering and thousands of workers uncertain about their future? Feel free to cry foul about the actual decision (as is your right) but don’t seek to socially engineer it for your particular view as again the final decision was with GM and not the government. Perhaps you don’t understand the news John

    As far as the NBN is concerned yes Kaye Lee I have borrowed in my life but I am afraid there is quite a substantial difference. I have borrowed in an equitable fashion knowing that the value of the asset for which I have borrowed has a tangible value on a balance sheet where too the liability and asset value are in proportion, all the while knowing that I have the means to service this debt. Further noting that the opportunity cost of servicing such debt is not pervasive on other things I wish to use my money for. We can most certainly debate the merits of the NBN for which there are many and I think you will find I agree on most. However it is my opinion in its current form it is far too costly.

    I have sought to outline a few of my thought processes above and how that relates to my reasoning. I don’t personally see anything shocking, confronting or offensive in these justifications, and as free speech is still very much free I am expressing my views, as we all very much have a right to do. Fear mongering because you don’t agree with me is again another form of social engineering. But I thank individuals such as David Linehan for their (slightly irrational) comments that I have proved to him that “evil is alive and well” for again helping to reinforce the notion of hypocrisy. Apparently my free speech is not really all that free, as my informed and rational opinions because different to his are seemingly “evil” and thus discredited. How very insightful of you David.

    Please note that these are my opinions and mine alone formed through my own logic. The next person who seeks to use Tony Abbotts name in a response has certainly missed the point of the piece. I am not a proponent of his nor am I defending him, I am raising a larger issue that you all seem to want to neglect. I am simply seeking a higher level of debate with those who seem incapable of seeing out of both eyes or listening out of both ears as to not be so hypocritical in trying to convey their message. How very narrow minded of you all.

  18. John Fraser


    @David Linehan

    Good old Amanda diverting everyones attention away from the "Slick' Abbott's gangs behaviour of the last 4 years.

    Must be the time for christians to be forgiving.

    Wonder what the other 6 billion people of the world will do.

  19. David Linehan

    Indeed John, not satisfied with a Witch Hunt of a Royal Commission and its 100’s of thousands of expense, just to try and find more dirt to heave at Labor, Amanda is trotted out to preach harmony and tolerance flavoured with a helping of misunderstood Honest Johnny Howard, mixed with a general dose of lets all join hands and sing let there be peace (as long as you ignore the multitude of lies and broken promises since election night)
    Ah indeed tis the season to be merry, if your job is secure, your standard of living can be gauranteed, the queus arn’t too long at public hospitals after brain dead Health Minister Dutton gives health Insurers a 6.25 % rise in fees and the home isn’t invaded by debt collecters.
    Oh and good luck to the whales in the Southern ocean, they can spout their thanks to scrooge Hunt, as the plane flys over witnessing the slaughter below.
    Be nice you say Amanda. How about starting in your own political dung heap .

  20. John Fraser


    @David Linehan

    No sign yet of the batt Commission calling State Ministers for Workplace Health and Safety.

    Nor even the heads of States Workplace Health and Safety.

    Nor any lowly employees of States Workplace Health and Safety.

    Must be good for every State and Territory to have entire Workplace Health and Safety departments that are not answerable to a Royal Commission or a State Inquiry.

    Or is it a failing of the Royal Commission ?

    Naw … that would mean it was political and all the MSM would be attacking it.

  21. Kaye Lee

    “I am simply seeking a higher level of debate with those who seem incapable of seeing out of both eyes or listening out of both ears as to not be so hypocritical in trying to convey their message. How very narrow minded of you all.”

    Mitch’s version of higher level debate:

    “this article is indeed your own (somewhat limited attempt)at social engineering”

    “social engineering is a tool often associated with those seeking to use psychological manipulation to commit fraudulent acts. Quite fitting when reading this article.”

    “For mine this article reeks of hypocrisy as ideologically it seems evident that you feel that your political stance (extrême-gauche) is the only one that holds true to modern Australia.”

    “you are simply a pseudo academic who is not in touch with reality”.

    I could go on “critiquing” your higher level of debate mitch but I am sick of it. I like to read things that teach me something, rather than wasting time.

  22. Bacchus

    To put “Mitch’s” diatribe into the vernacular, supercilious wanker comes immediately to mind 🙄

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