[Marxism] thoughts on Australian politics
gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 13 16:36:13 MST 2017
I have been remiss in that I have not spent much time posting about events in Oz. There is a state election in Queensland, happening in two weeks and it is hard to pick it.
The conservative Liberal National Party (LNP) are in opposition and governing in a minority government is the Labor Party. It is best described as cautious and tending to cling to the vanishing neoliberal centre. The Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk is, or deserves to be, famous for her “I won’t be rushed” mantra.
The Murdoch press (Curses be on it) is concentrating on the activities of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party. Hanson is not running. She is a federal Senator. But the media hangs upon her every word. Her party could be described as right wing populist. She is racist and angry and stupid. But she definitely has some disadvantages as well.
For instance, there is a total absence of discipline in her “party”. This could be best described as a flocking together of the “deplorables” - all drawn like flies to the excremental that is Hansonism. But Hanson lacks a Steve Bannon, who could articulate a Strasserism, that would move her into serious disidentification territory rather than the terrain of counter-identification that the One Nation Party & their supporters now occupy. (Reference to Michel Pecheux’s work there, comrades).
As well, Hanson herself is a Tory wannabe. She just wants to be accepted by her betters. Thus, she votes with the Federal conservative government to cut penalty rates. She supports the use of cheap overseas labour on Australian boats. She raves against the unions and never conceives of the possibility of winning the membership over. When the government is in trouble, she moves to prop them up.
So this is the kind of right wing populism you have when you don’t have a real right wing populism. I hesitate to say this, but Hansonism is not fascism. Having said that, it could mutate, and I am not at inferring that the One Nation Party and the cult of Hanson are something we should not worry about.
So what will happen in the State election? For me the overwhelming factor is that the main Conservative Party, the LNP, is a spent force in ideological terms. The steady collapse of the neoliberal centre, the return of Keynesian thinking, have all deprived the LNP of a clear focus. They do not have any solution to the myriad of problems that have sprung up in the 21st century since the GFC of 2008. When the LNP were in government (2012-2015), they indulged in an orgy of late unset Thatcherism, sacking thousands of public servants and plunging the state into a shortfall in demand that led the state into a recession.
Like the Conservatives in England conservative parties in Australia are one trick ponies. They cling to the tenets of austerity and if that does not work, they are bereft.
Whether they would admit, or even know it, or not, the State and Federal Liberals are basically waiting for the Labor Party to come up with a solution which they will then attempt to own.
Whether the Labor Party which gave Australia neoliberalism under Paul Keating, can now construct a Keynesian type Centre is what is bubbling under the political surface here.
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