Kurtz: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin?
Willard: I’m a soldier.
Kurtz: You’re neither. You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.
– Apocalypse Now (1979)
Figured it out. Its about destroying Unions.
More specifically its about destroying the voter base from which the ALP draws its support, an important component of which is Unions. Viewed from this perspective several of the Coalition’s supposed blunders in the past three months since taking power can be seen as a cohesive strategy and therefore make logical sense as opposed to being seen as inept, crazy or politically miscalculated. This was the error I made in my first blog on this issue.
The objective of political parties is not actually to govern the nation. This is merely the role assigned to them by democratic theory. The objective of political parties is actually to gain power for their donors so that the financial stakeholders (e.g Gina Rinehart, the CFMEU) and their administrative spokesmen (e.g Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten) may divide money and power between them according to their personal proclivities. Such proclivities may include trying to improve the lives of ordinary Australians, or at least the self-delusion that making party donors rich or powerful will do so as a by-product.
Someone once said, politics is the shadow cast by business over society. Precisely. This gets to the point that retail politicking (election campaigns and the like) is merely a proxy war fought by the powerful for power and money. So we may say, moving to the next level of analysis, that each decision of a political administration has as its true objective the continuation of the rule of the current ruling class or faction thereof and/or the disbursement of benefits of power to that faction. Any benefit that may flow to wider society is a necessary cost of power in a democracy, a grudging concession to the need to appease the none-core constituency i.e. those not financial donors or administrative tools. A majority must be garnered and maintained; and propaganda has limits. Voters demand to see the cash / education system they were promised. Unless you can talk them out of it.
The power base of political parties persists beyond each election campaign and their objectives are stable. Gina Rinehart wants to destroy unions today just as much as she did 30 years ago and her donations to the Liberal Party are intended, as they always have been, to procure that objective. Her servants and fellow ideologues, Graham Morris and Mark Textor (LNP strategist), have the same objective. They are constantly looking for ways in which to not only defeat but ultimately destroy the ALP. And the way to do that is to destroy their voting base of which Unions are an important component. This is achieved by Legislation (Work Choices), Propaganda (Rupert Murdoch, The Australian) and, where necessary, the Police or Military in support of legislation (Patrick Stevedores).
Here Graham Morris alludes with exaltation to the collapse in Union membership since 1980 and how this has gutted the voter base of the ALP:
GRAHAME MORRIS: Well, I think what we’ve talked about is the Labor Party problem. It is hard to think over the next decade or two where the Labor Party in any part of this country can from here on in govern in its own right. The labour, L-A-B-O-U-R, vote and support has just collapsed. It is down under 30 per cent
A major landmark in this long-term decline was the collapse in Manufacturing, especially Auto, under Keating in the 1990s, following the drastic reduction in tariffs that Keating administered. As George Megalogenis has described, many of those blue-collar workers, formerly unionized, became self-employed as couriers, landscape gardeners and the like. They became self-employed small businessmen and with it LNP voters. This was the genesis of Howard’s Battlers, low-income entrepeneurs, a voting bloc first recognised and effusively courted by Howard and the LNP and ever since a vital cohort of swinging voters, essential to electoral success. The ALP knows them as ‘Working Families’.
And that brings us to the decision to let Holden die, and with it quite possibly Australia’s entire Automotive sector. The decision is insane only when viewed from the perspective of national industrial capacity and diversity, skills retention, research and development and associated goals always considered part and parcel of rational and strategic national objectives.
But sane governmental objectives are only tangentially associated with political power. The Automotive sector is heavily unionized. It is crawling with ALP voters. Therefore from the perspective of long-term Liberal Party power interests it is better to destroy the Automotive Industry. So they did: Morris, Textor, Minchin and Cormann I mean. Abbott too. Though frankly Abbott seems unlikely to know with any certainty what day it is. He’s a messenger boy. At best a figurehead. As for Hockey: he too will do what he’s told.
And why kill the industry now ? Because propaganda conditions are ripe. The public is ready to accept it. Unions are long-regarded as evil and European Debt and the GFC have been leveraged by Murdoch to mark government spending, most especially government debt as cardinal irresponsibility, a national shame and a hallmark of incompetence. In short, the public now believes, as per consistent repetition, that there is no reason, place or rationale for subsidy. Except for themselves, personally. If they are middle-class or higher. Subsidy for low-income and unemployed is evil. As instructed.
The next step, almost achieved in the USA, is to train the public to believe that government itself is evil. Then corporations will be able to rule unhindered by any form of regulation.
And the next next major step after that is the dismantling of middle class welfare which happens sometime after voluntary voting is introduced (Freedom TM, Democracy TM). The middle class is only cosseted now because it determines election outcomes. The voting franchise will be moved higher and higher up the socio-economic ladder as circumstances and propaganda permit. That damnable Obama motivated poor people to vote again! This is his true odium.
Cohesive, Logical, Insane
To summarize thus far, the LNP is destroying the Australian Automotive Industry because it is Unionized. By this destruction of Unions they hope to further gut the ALP vote and garner another voter wave of self-employed entrepeneurs, their set-up costs funded by their redundancy payouts.
Seeing the destruction of the Automotive Sector this way makes sense of other decisions taken by the Credlin government: namely Gonski backflips and Child Care pay rise withdrawal.
The LNP wants to destroy public education because teachers are unionized and because publicly funded schools teach communitarian principles such as conservation and, well, community. The LNP ideal is for each voter to be an atomised, personally obsessed and entirely self-funded microbe operating in complete disassociation with any other person in Australia. This the LNP calls freedom. From communitarian principles spring horrific ideas like taxation, conservation, anti-defamation laws, national parks, equal opportunity and such. These impulses must be resisted and destroyed. Gonski would have strengthened public education. So it had to be undone. And it was.
Pyne was neither a fool, nor out of control, just a bit messy and arrogant. He did precisely what was intended and very effectively. He will be promoted and rewarded within the parallel Universe of the Melbourne Club, by Ambassadorial appointment, Chairmanship of the ICC or indeed whatever the heck he asks for. He may even get a Presidential Freedom Medal from the American Enterprise Institute or whom/whatever for services to crushing socialism in human thought.
Private education, on the other hand, teaches merely personal Values TM from which Libertarianism can be later extrapolated via Uncle Rupert’s wall-to-wall messaging. This is why the LNP gladly subsidizes private education.
The withdrawal of the funding of child care workers pay rises was done simply because the pay rises had to be made under an Enterprise Agreement which allows Unions more entrée to the process. This is plenty reason enough for the LNP to veto it.
Continuous Opportunistic Destruction
The delegitimisation and preferably destruction of unionized or communitarian ideals and institutions is continually in the forefront of the minds of Liberal strategists. Taking advantage of propitious conditions Peter Costello took the opportunity to eliminate compulsory student unionism on University campuses.
While superficially the abolition of compulsory student unionism appeared to be a childish misuse of Federal Government time and power, a juvenile continuation (and it was) of undergraduate politics club feuding into the sphere of national government, this move makes perfect logical sense if viewed as an opportunistic strategic strike against ALP leadership training and the entire legitimacy of unionism as a social institution. A strategy of moral panic was deployed by the Liberal Party in its successful campaign to delegitimise Student Unions by pointing out that Student Unions had sent money to Palestinian Solidarity groups. This rationale was simplified into panic-speak by claiming that Student Unions support Hamas.
The delegitimisation of Unionism has been a constant theme of The Australian since Abbott became LNP Leader Of The Opposition and has continued seamlessly into government. Unions are constantly portrayed as criminal, parasitic and wasteful inhibitors of national prosperity. This caricature is now the standard received Truth about unions for a goodly proportion of Australians.
All of these decisions: kill Student Unions, kill Automotive, kill Gonski, kill Child Care pay rises were taken because each of them weakens the voter base of the ALP. They are extremely important and strategic decisions taken by the LNP-that-matters (hello Nick Minchin). Class warfare anyone ?
All of these decisions have political cost, i.e. they are all unpopular, and the LNP is now behind in the polls in record quick time for a new government.
But, hey, there are three years until the next election and two weeks until Christmas. People forget. In this way the LNP is doing what all new governments do which is get the bad news out of the way quickly and in plenty enough time for voter amnesia. Most Australians will have forgotten about Gonski and Child Care, let alone Debt Ceiling, by the time they dump the Christmas wrapping paper in the bin.
But the LNP has taken a very big gamble with the Automotive Industry. 50,000 jobs and a string of small component makers. That’s a lot of brothers, cousins, uncles and dads on the scrapheap. And not all at once. Component makers will drop out week in week out for who knows how long. Toyota may hang on for two years and then go. So this particular decision, to let Auto die, crosses the ideological line from long-term Liberal Party political strategy into national destruction.
Maybe the LNP have hamstrung themselves in the first week, like Gillard did with Carbon Pricing.
Mayhap, Touchwood, mayhap.