I have just read David Marr’s essay The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race (Quarterly Essay #65) on Pauline Hanson and her party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. The confluence in name between Pauline Hanson and her party is exact and intentional. As Hanson said on national TV The Party is me . And she is correct. The One Nation phenonemon is entirely a product of Hanson’s passion, personality, raw determination and resilience. Without Hanson One Nation cannot exist.
I will use this post to comment on Marr’s excellent essay, which Marr conceived in order to put a floor of fact under Hanson’s people and her political people . Like all observers of Australian politics, Marr wants to understand the One Nation phenonemon, how it is that a race-based political party can thrive and become so influential within Australia. For those who abhor the phenonemon of race-based politics this understanding is a foundational, crucial first step towards neutralising One Nation or at least preventing it advancing further from its present toxifying influence into a genuinely Fascistic unadulterated race-hate movement.
Can I just say that the title of Marr’s essay The White Queen is marvellous ? It captures Hanson and the relationship of Hanson’s supporters to her perfectly.
A portion of Marr’s essay is strict quantitative research in which a profile of the typical One Nation voter is resolved from longitudinal survey-based research. This section while relatively dry reading is absolutely essential to understanding Hanson’s people.
Marr finds that the typical One Nation voter is Australian-born, male (56% v 44% female), identifies as working class , secular (not religious), lives on urban fringes of cities and large towns (but also in small rural communities), likely to have a trades education (i.e. is less educated than the general public), are pessimistic about their own economic prospects and those of Australia generally, heavily distrust government and politicians, are inclined to a law and order viewpoint in solving societal issues, thinks there is too much welfare, detests immigration and multiculturalism but does not personally live among or even know recent migrants migrants (though they may live in neighbouring areas to migrants) or know those on welfare and, strikingly, perceives a nexus between immigrants and crime.
Marr summarises the Hansonites as being from National Party heartland
This post will develop over the next few weeks as I add to it, but I just want to start with one comment for now. Hanson’s people are, at an emotional level, infantile.
Marr, summarizing Rebecca Huntley, who has conducted voter focus groups for many years says Hanson’s people yearn for the past . Many Australians aged 40 or older may express an opinion that the Australia of their youth was a better place, but if pressed, most voters will say, no, they do not want to return to the Australia of the 1950’s with its monoculture, remoteness from the world and limited work opportunities for women. But Hanson voters do really want to return Australia to the 1950’s. Hanson’s voters want to return Australia to the young adulthood of their fathers, when they were children, when everything was certain, secure, predictable and they felt physically and emotionally safe.
Consequently, even though Marr does not say this, I do: Hanson’s people are infantile.
Engaging One Nation
This is an important finding for engaging with One Nation. It means that you are dealing with children. How do you win an argument with 55 year old children ? You can’t. You just need to give them a few lollies and their favourite blanket and hopefully that will quiet them down before they trash the joint.
John Howard knew this. When engaging with One Nation he didn’t try and argue with them. He tried to mollify them. Specifically, he addressed their insecurities. Howard said, speaking of his GST reforms, that he would give them something better than what they had i.e. economic security and in this way draw them back to the mainstream.
Keating terrified Hanson’s people. Open borders, open tariffs, familiar industries closing down, unfamiliar new industries to be encouraged, the welcome of Asia. Every Hansonite in the country, beginning with Hanson herself, filled their nappies in horror.
The Hansonite infantilism drives their insecurity. Hence their attraction to law and order solutions such as Capital Punishment and to gun ownership, by which they hope to protect themselves and their property from both ravishing migrant hordes and theiving, dishonest government.
Hansonites are impervious to argument. They need calming down.
So the first thing you need to do for Hansonites, like Howard, is say ‘Yes, yes I hear you’. And then listen. I mean really listen. But, as for children, don’t necessarily do as they demand. Reassure them. Offer them a rosy picture of the future. Let them know they are important. I would even give them a few lollies like, I dunno, rural subsidy for road-building or construction of humungous Anzac Day memorials if it was thought this would help social cohesion and defuse their anger to some degree.
Social cohesion is worth paying for. And it is necessary for governments to argue the case for social change. Hansonism is partially at least a result of governments taking the conservative under-educated for granted.
But ultimately if the giant 55 year old toddler baby Hansonites refuse to stop tantruming, they should be ignored. Their core constituency is low in number. You can’t let the country be governed by children.
And this is the problem that Marr identifies throughout his essay. The major parties are willingly accommodating to Hansonites. John Howard was in fact a Hansonite himself. So is Dutton and the rest of the conservative, reactionary, white male rump of the Liberal National Coalition. Both Liberal and Labor have adopted Hanson’s policies in regard to Asylum-Seekers.
The country needs a government that will treat Hansonites as children. But not dismissively as Keating did, but inclusively, without succumbing to the attraction of populism or the fear of educated reactionaries who should know better.
Hanson Is Not Racist
Hanson denies she is racist. She defines racism as a belief that one’s own race is superior to other races and says that she doesn’t think that whites are superior to Aboriginals or Asians or anyone else.
I believe Hanson. Marr does not.
Marr says that what betrays Hanson as a racist is her conspiratorial mindset, the belief shared by aggressive, ideological racists that they (the hated and feared other race) have a secret agenda to take over. This is certainly Hansonite territory.
Hanson once believed that Asians were soon to swamp Australia and now believes that Muslims intend to impose Sharia Law on us all. So-called University-educated Elites were also imposing Political Correctness on mainstream, normal Australians like Pauline Hanson, so taking over Australia with some kind of leftist Sharia. Malcolm Roberts, her climate denialist compatriot and co-Senator thinks that Climate Change is a hoax invented by Jews acting in concert with the IMF and United Nations to take over the world and enforce One World Government. Why would Jews want to do that ? Because they are evil, presumably.
While the fear of being swamped or displaced by another race or culture is indeed a feature of racist thinking I don’t believe that Hanson is racist. I consider, instead, that Hanson is Xenophobic, i.e. has a fear of outsiders from other races. Specifically Hanson fears the extinction of her own culture: which is conservative, white, secular nominally-but-not-actually-semi-Christian Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Fish and Chips 1950’s Anglo-Australian middle-class parochialism. Once upon a time everybody Hanson knew, met, or ever even saw, was like that. Hanson thinks that this particular thing that she is, is the only kind of Australian that is authentically Australian.
John Howard is this kind of Australian too. John Howard once said that he was quintessentially Australian. This gave John Howard the self-assumed right and authority, therefore, to state what was Australian and what was UnAustralian. What was Mainstream and what wasn’t. Who could have rights and who couldn’t. Hanson assumes the same nativist, infallible perfection of insight. She is Australia and can therefore speak infallibly for Australia.
Hanson fears the loss of her own culture in her own country. She fears and experiences disempowerment. Her views were derided are passe, unacceptable and crass. She feels a displacement from the cultural centre, in other words a loss of privilege which she perceives as an attack on her and her culture; she perceives targeted assistance for Aboriginals as unfair to white Australians. She calls herself a proud Australian. I don’t want to see my culture gone. She wants everyone to behave the same way as her when in her town, state and country. She refuses to accept that her views may be out-dated or vulgar and finds such an idea impossible. She does not believe that it is acceptable or possible for a culture to change, that there is more than one way to be Australian, that the idea of being Australian can evolve.
Hanson is definitely conservative and Xenophobic. These things do not mean that she considers her own culture superior to other cultures, but she does want to make sure her own culture remains dominant in her own town, state and country. I doubt she shares the anti-Semitic views of her co-Senator Malcolm Roberts.
 Marr, QE #65, p.72 from Sunday Mail 10 January 2015.
 QE #65, p.96
 QE #65, p.59
 QE #65, p.71