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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Australian fascism? « Previous | |Next »
December 6, 2005

Gerard Henderon in the Sydney Morning Herald has an op ed. on the responses to the sedition provisions of the Howard Government's anti-terrorism legislation. He says:

So it has come to this, apparently. The passing by the Senate of the Federal Government's industrial relations legislation, and the likely passing this week of its national security legislation, has led to the creation of the Howard fascist police state. All courtesy of Mark Latham's disastrous performance as ALP leader in last year's election, which led to the Coalition obtaining a Senate majority.

Henderson gives instances of those Australians who talk in terms of Australian fascism---an Australian police state.


Henderson calls for a dose of realism. Rightly so. What is happening with the camps, the roll back of civil liberties, and the use of fear by the national securitry in Australia ais not the same as the totalitarianism of Stalinism and Nazism. As Henderson points out, unlike real totalitarian regimes, the so-called Howard fascist police state will go to the polls in just two years' time.

But that does not mean that something has not shifted in the Australian body politic. What Henderson does not address is the move away from liberalism to conservatism. That shift is marked by increasing power to the state at the expense of the individual. Yet academics are not addressing the significance of that newly forming conservatism.

What has shifted is that the Executive is using the threat of terrorism to introduce laws that put our most basic liberties under threat. What we have is the power of the executive being used to put someone--a citizen--- into detention/prison without formulating any charge and denying the citzen the judgement of his /her peers.They can then be held under house detention.

Is this not the mark of dictatorial regimes? Do we not have a situation in which Australia is fighting a war on terrorism to defend liberty and is losing its own liberty in the process? Isn't this what the Law Council of Australia, and all state law councils, have drawn attention to?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:43 AM | | Comments (6)


The media, particularly that owned by Murdoch is running a fear campaign which is very successful at present. The Australians editorial piece in which it is claimed Australias anti-terrorism legislation must be okay primarily because it is not as restrictive as the US Patriot Act, or the new bill the Blair govt is trying to push through, is a fine example of a salesmans glib response....its not very good, but its better than the competition. Every move we make to combat terrorism by removing or curtailing freedom in our Society, weakens what we are, and why we are so different from the type of Society the Islamic facists would impose on the World. Bin Laden must be very pleased with these responses.....its exactly what he and his colleagues hoped for.
My own fears of what will happen with this type of legislation is not that the govt will use it to silence any inconvenient voices, although that is a potential problem, but rather that petty bureacrats now have a very handy tool to make many poor innocent bastards lives miserable for no good reason.
I am not in Oz so I am not familiar with all the debate over this, but has anyone asked.....What happens when we win the War on Terror and the world is safe for peace loving citizens once again......will this legislation be repealed???


Originally the Bill had a ten year expiry date, although there was talk from the Senate about reducing it to 5 years. But I would be very interested to know what the final passed Bill says. Anyone?

I understand that the legislation was passsed with a ten-year expiry date and five-year review of laws.

Gary, for some time I have argued that Howard’s fascism is a ‘new’ kind of fascism.

First, of course, it denies emphatically that it is ‘fascist’; an association which would immediately discredit it. It is also the reason why it does not have the trappings, at least not overtly, of what one might usually associate with fascism. For example, there are no massed parades of black uniformed soldiers, no grossly oversized flags hanging vertically in neat rows from government buildings, there are no brown leather-coated men at every railway station, bus depot and airport asking to see ‘your papers please’ – or at least not yet there isn’t.

Howard’s New Fascism doesn’t revolve around himself; he has no desire to be a dictator per se. He does, however, wish to establish a permanent basis, a political structure coexisting in and hybridising our existing system, within which the vision of his New Fascist Australia can be perpetuated.

His vision is for a regionally strong and influential antipodean, essentially white-European Christian dominated, nation that predominately is corporatist in economic structure and where its inhabitants are strongly encouraged to participate in the machinations of that corporatist economic structure and where those that, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to participate are both marginalised from the system and demonised as being somehow inadequate and of little worth and therefore only worthy of being kept at barely subsistence levels.

Part of the process of creating the New Fascist Australia involves projecting the notion of a primarily white-European Christian dominant society where non-Christian values, particularly and especially those of Islam, are demonised in order to create a climate of fear within which a compliant population are nurtured and polarised toward a pro-Christian value that sees other religious and/or cultural values as being abhorrent.

As the process evolves toward his New Fascist Australia, Howard seeks to strengthen Australia’s armed forces not just in order to defend Australia’s shores but also with weapons and equipment that will allow him to project Australia’s power and assert hegemony well beyond Australia’s shores and into, when deemed necessary, other nations within Australia’s region. Part of this process also includes the mythologising of Australia’s military heritage and the cultivation of a militarist attitude among Australia’s youth via the promise of a career in its armed forces which could follow on from an armed forces cadetship.

Howard’s close relationship with Bush in the light of the events of and after 9/11 has served Howard’s purpose well in terms of providing closer ties in trade and defence with a nation that has a similar predominantly European heritage and political outlook.

Australians, quite rightly, should be aware of Howard’s drive toward fascism and recognise it for what it is before it is too late to reverse the process. It must be stopped in its tracks.

And now (June) we have Howard's attack on the electoral process itself. Methinks a pattern emerges ...

Kenneth Davidson, writing in The Age, says:

At the federal level, while the Greens and the Democrats held the balance of power in the Senate, there was a chance that executive government could be held accountable, but not now. Hence there has been a flood of legislation and appointments to institutions, designed to undermine the countervailing powers essential to the health of democracy. These include judicial and board appointments to important institutions such as the High Court and the ABC, undermining the advocacy role of non-government organisations, the criminalisation of hitherto legitimate trade union activity, changing the electoral act to restrict the number of eligible voters as well as increase the influence of wealth, and the latest example, further weakening the Senate committee system, which, in conjunction with the Auditor-General, provides the only check on executive government.

It is removng the checks and balances on the centralizing power of the executive for sure. The latest example is controlling the committees in the Senate to prevent inquiries desired by the oppostion parties.