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DUSTING OFF THE NEO-LIBERAL PLAYBOOK June 20, 2014

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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The budget was unanticipated and a shock. Neo-liberalism is the Government’s pervasive ideology.

Why has this happened? There are probably many reasons. The “ideology seems” out of time with developments elsewhere.The expression of these belief was a surprise. The advocacy of people such as Senator Cormann, and more lately Joe Hockey seems bizarre. Did they imagine their weirdness would attract any public support? I will suggest three explanatory causes: the decline of “the rural socialists” in terms of electoral support and influence inside the Coalition, the application of the Republican play book of implicit racism, scapegoating and cruelty, and influence, particularly within the Liberal Party, of money raising and the political donors in a political environment in which party membership has declined. In such a circumstance party values and world views are created by the representatives, not the party membership.

Why did the free market ideology arrive late to Australia and Neoliberalism on the manufactured pretext of the budget crisis to the Liberal Party so late, so that the critique and experience are well established. To some extent the market reforms of the Hawke and Keating Governments preempted the ideologues of the right. During the Howard years budgetary policy was designed to buy votes. Similarly in New Zealand it was the Labour Party that introduced neo-Liberal reforms:

The influence of Black Jack McKwen (due to his stern demeanour apparently) on Australian politics is a distant memory. In the Special Senate Election in WA on the 5 April 2014, the National Party, the descendant of the Country Party attracted 3.5% of voters. To me this was extraordinary. I well remember the political commitment of the farmers on the back of wheat trucks in the glow of dusk when I was visiting my Uncle’s farm in the wheatbelt some decades ago. As it turns out the Country Party was foundered in Western Australia. Wikipedia notes:

According to historian B. D. Graham (1959), the graziers who operated the sheep stations were politically conservative. They disliked the Labor party, which represented their workers, and feared that Labor governments would pass unfavorable legislation and listen to foreigners and Communists. The graziers were satisfied with the marketing organisation of their industry, opposed any change in land tenure and labour relations, and advocated lower tariffs, low freight rates, and low taxes. On the other hand, Graham reports, the small farmers, not the graziers, founded the Country party. The farmers advocated government intervention in the market through price support schemes and marketing pools. The graziers often politically and financially supported the Country party, which in turn made the Country party more conservative.[3]

The National Party’s brief is wider than representing farmers and they see their role as giving voice to the non-metropolitan interests. As the Nationals brand has become indistinguishable from the Liberals. In WA it has to be imagined that the economics of wheat deregulation has played a role. These reforms were more likely introduced by the ALP. It seems that the National Party has little influence within the Government.

I wonder to what extent the prescriptions for government are ideological as such, but simply a steal from the Republican play book for winning elections. The underlying premise, which seems to apply in particular to the treatment of refugees, is racist dog whistles are not acknowledged. These politics are cynical, cruel and dishonest – and at least from my view, contemptible. It is stark political violence – but don’t mention the war. Kellie Tranter has more and Ian Henry Lopez is on the case:

Ian Haney López on the Dog Whistle Politics of Race from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

The hypothecated tendency from the “financialization of the economy” and technological change combined with corporate globalization is to leave the economy without jobs and creating permanent unemployment. The sticking point is the developing inequality, which Abbott’s policies are designed to exacerbate. We should simply ignore Professor Piketty’s investigation of economic history. But hey, who knew?

When government regulation is withdrawn, Capitalism no longer works for the common good. The crooks rule. The script is meant to be that the corporations rule the world. Who knows if corporate capitalism is in climate change denial. It is not true of the insurance companies, whose actuaries being statistically literate can understand the climate scientists. There are viable industries that could develop within the province of appropriate government regulation that the Abbott Government’s climate change denial is about to strip away.

In summary you have a government that is responding to illusionary budget crisis, in part the aftermath of the successful response to the 2008 GFC (that cannot be mentioned) and the denial of what the scientific evidence suggests if a real and increasing crisis in the climate. Cruel social policies promoted on the spurious grounds of fairness despite the abundant evidence of their implications and ramifications elsewhere. The petite bourgeoisie are angry because they are always angry, because they perceive correctly their situation is inherently unfair. Farmers once formed cooperatives and the political practice of the common good. Small minds cannot address large problems. The Abbot Government hope is that the country and the people’s spirit is more insular than continental, more narrow than endless plains, and devoid of empathy and a sense of history.

Where does this go?

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