The Liberal Party and the mainstream right are no longer just ‘the stupid parties’, they’re decidedly deluded as well.
Is there a more pathetic sight than the centre-right? Hardly a day passes without someone from establishment organs like the Liberal Party or the IPA bemoaning the latest leftist overreach; completely impotent in response, and totally ignorant of their role in bringing this into being.
A host of examples are on offer. Take conservative commentator Terry Barnes and his complaint about plans to remove Cook’s Cottage from Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens. Or take the Liberal leader himself: with Peter Dutton expressing his bemusement that Big Business is acting in complete accord with the tenets of Woke Capital in siding with the Yes camp of the Aboriginal Voice.
If you’re still unconvinced of left-liberal dominance, consider the following: all-pervasive Welcome to Countries; an ubiquitous rainbow flag; our new position on Palestine; a gay AFL round; the desecration of statues and renaming of suburbs; racially-exclusive businesses; and an exhortation to Pay The Rent. We are clearly not living in a land where conservativism holds any kind of sway.
The basic pattern is as follows. The left continue their relentless march though all our institutions – see ESG, DEI, and the sexualisation of everything, including children – and a handful of conservatives complain. These complaints are heard and then ignored as yet more of the country is ceded to left-liberalism.
To cite one key example, the left-liberal forces that that brought us Gay Marriage – via our ostensible conservative party – didn’t stop there. They followed it up with gender-fungible birth certificates and sex transitions on adolescents. They now have plans for Aboriginal reparations and the abolition of Australia Day.
Why is the centre-right both oblivious to and impotent towards this leftward drift? A large part of the answer is the ideological straightjacket it’s imposed on itself. After the events of 1914-1945, and especially 1979, the only acceptable form of conservatism has been economism. An ideology which prioritizes economic growth – done almost entirely through the mass import of migrants – to the exclusion of all other values.
Non-economic notions like culture, cohesion and ethnicity are thus excluded from debate as our elites speak solely of economic indicators such as interest rates and GDP. Yet it’s the exclusion of these non-economic values that has rendered the right impotent. As the broad left – especially the many immigrants that fill its ranks – act upon their base instincts to harm their enemies and help their friends. This, after all, is the famed ‘friend-enemy distinction’ of Carl Schmitt applied to the present day.
And it’s this that explains the failings of the centre-right. The popular ascendancy that PM Anthony Albanese holds over Dutton – despite catastrophic inflation, homelessness, and a cost of living crisis – is a prime example. As is the state of Victoria, where the nation’s largest debt and longest Covid lockdown have done nothing to dissuade Victorians from near-permanent support for the ALP. Indeed, all our main jurisdictions outside Tasmania are in the hands of Labour.
Somewhat ironically, the man who bears most of the blame for this is the centre-right’s most venerated figure, John Howard. Our second-longest serving PM is both the best exemplar of conservatism’s deluded impotence and its primary cause. To take one example, Howard recently wondered “why are we doing this to ourselves?” with reference to the Aboriginal Voice.
Well, John, the main reason is that you brought these things into being. As Howard famously repudiated his earlier beliefs about the perils of mass Asian immigration and vastly increased our intake. In fact, he ramped it up to well over 200,000 per annum – a number more than double our historical average. This rate has largely been maintained, including by three Coalition governments, and does much to explain the current conservative malaise.
Quite simply, migrants lean overwhelmingly to the left. A fact seen in the ALP’s dominance of the highly-diverse areas of Western Melbourne and Sydney, and confirmed by ALP-aligned pollster Kos Samaras. As Samaras shows, migrants vote for the left at a 20% higher rate than the right. They are also much more likely than old-stock Australians to vote for the Aboriginal Voice.
Trends that are also confirmed overseas and that are further in evidence among the young. As Tom Switzer and others have noted, the right is loathed by young Australians, with only one in four under forty voting for the Liberals. A state that will only worsen as the Baby Boomers pass on and this young cosmopolitan cohort gains greater electoral and political prominence.
What the centre-right has failed to appreciate is the importance of non-economic factors in politics. As in a somewhat ironic reversal, it is the left that has best captured the notions of American conservative RR Reno in his Return of the Strong Gods. That is, the pre-eminence of emotional considerations in politics, like tribalism and group-loyalty, and not economics.
At a philosophic level, all of this is further evidence of the failures of the Liberal Party’s ‘broad church’. The melding of Burkean social conservatism and Hayekian economic liberalism may have been tenable in the more homogenous Australia of the past. But under multiculturalism, all it has meant is a multi-ethnic electorate that veers left, and an unencumbered market that has enabled an egregious ethnic nepotism, and that has steamrolled its way through all the institutions Burke took for granted – see our dismal fertility or home-ownership rates, for instance.
It’s these currents that expose the delusions of the Liberals and the centre-right. While they are busy penning their latest paean to Menzies, the left’s power grows apace. A sight seen in our cities, and again, in states like Victoria. A place where the Liberal Party is as good as dead, and where the ALP entrenches itself as rulers of a de facto one-party state.
What’s the answer? Clearly it’s a Right of actual substance. Something seen in places like Hungary, Japan or South Korea. Or that was once known in our more ancient past – even among the ALP.
Until that happens, though, the Liberal Party and establishment conservativism will no longer be just the stupid parties, they’ll be the deluded ones as well. Their dwindling numbers forever fantasising from their branch meetings that a free market and the tenets of Martin Luther King’s Dream will be enough to hand them the reins of power again sometime soon.