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

a 'Tea Party' in Australia? « Previous | |Next »
November 5, 2010

Angry white Americans make good media copy, especially when they are fronted by suburban housewives with the attitude of Mama grizzlies, and backed by big Republican money. The angry Americans are the majorities of white men and women, suburbanites and older Americans whose nostalgia is for a lost America, and whose often cynical and fearful view of the future is coloured by this sense of loss.

RowsonMTeaparty.jpg Martin Rowson

Martin Kettle in his Boris Johnson could be the Sarah Palin of a British Tea Party in The Guardian says that the Tea Party:

stands for individualism, libertarianism, low taxes and small government. It is nationalistic, overwhelmingly white and not interested in the rest of the world, which it views as a hostile force. An insurrectionary party of that kind – stripped of the distinctively American aspects like guns, capital punishment and cultural conservatism – is surely at least conceivable in a British and European context. In fact, such parties exist in most European countries already, albeit on the margins. In this country Ukip comes quite close to this template, and it shares a lot of ground with parts of the Tory party.

And is surely conceivable in Australia. The nationalistic, overwhelmingly white strand is most obvious in those opposed, to and deeply hostile towards, refugees and to they two new asylum seeker detention facilities in Western Australia and South Australia. They advocate Fortress Australia in their desire to restore a lost Australia.

Kettle adds that if we imagine a British Tea Party as an off-the-peg American franchise we are asking the wrong question. The cultures are too different. Similarly with Australia. However, the roots are there in older Australia in the form of right wing populism, that is socially conservative, is hostile to an out-of-touch and corrupt Canberra elite, and is backed by the strong media presence and support of News Ltd.

These conservative populists---ethnic whites and older and working class men and women-- dislike unwelcome change and desire restoration, are susceptible to the Coalition's opposition to the process of transformation, which they see as being driven The Greens (the enemy within). The Coalition is doing its best to stir them up.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:37 PM | | Comments (7)


In Angry America raises the barricades in the Financial Times Philip Stephens says that:

The midterms elections were a referendum on an Obama administration that is presiding over anaemic economic recovery and stubbornly high unemployment .... the anxiety and anger [were] stirred by high unemployment, squeezed living standards and record mortgage foreclosures. This discontent has deep underpinnings. Times have been hard for a lot longer than the past couple of years.

That is not the case in Australia. The economy is entering boom times.

We have had our "Tea Party".It was called "One Nation"

It was not able to sustain itself because of the voting regimen in Australia which includes compulsory voting and preferential voting.

We will see whether the US counterpart burns itself out

There's no history of libertarianism in Australia. One Nation was about the loss of industrial jobs, and the blame for that going to immigrants. They actually wanted a bigger government, if you look at it. The Tea Party is fascism in our time, supported by the neo-aristocratic oil billlionaires, the Koch brothers.

MrT re your comment:

We have had our "Tea Party".It was called "One Nation"

Though the One Nation Party died, the white, one nation conservatives are now part of the Liberal Party. That party is shifting to the right as it increasingly incorporates an angry conservative populism.

we have the standard contradiction in the LIberal Party---the economic liberal emphasis on small government, personal freedom and balanced budgets; and the conservative populist emphasis on big government that intervenes on socially conservative issues and provides jobs for the working class in the regional towns in the Murray-Darling Basin.

"That is not the case in Australia. The economy is entering boom times."

Oh yeah... ah... um... that would be "the Lucky Country" rising again, right?

Sorry, I'm looking as hard as I can and I DO NOT see any sign of "boom times" down my end of the swamp. Not even a speck. I suspect that those "boom times" are going to be popping up in a fairly small geographic location and directly benefit a tiny portion of the population. The rest will have to keep treading water.

And that, part, is the problem in the US. There's still dollars to be made, but not everyone gets a fair shot at the prize.

mars08 refers to Australia's "two-speed" economy. The resource-rich States (WA and Qld) do better than the others.

It's interesting to note that commentators who like to deny that we have a two-speed economy generally refer to Govt. policies which work to even out State incomes. The big one is horizontal fiscal equalisation, administered by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.

It is common for politicians in WA and Qld to whinge about the way horizontal fiscal equalisation "takes money" from them and redistributes it. Nobody ever seems to consider that in the past - before the minerals boom, when Australia had manufacturing industries - horizontal fiscal equalisation worked to benefit WA and Qld at the cost of NSW and Victoria.

Call it fiscal karma. And stop complaining.