Conservative governments in the U.S. and Australia have caused a decline in both social behaviour and the global environment, writes Stephen Fitzgerald.
WHAT HAS UNFOLDED as a result of the disputed U.S. Presidential Election, driving the ensuing insurrection, is not entirely surprising when you look at the big players in Republican former U.S. President Donald Trump's “shadow cabinet”. There are trillions of dollars at stake. Trump represents the all-powerful fossil fuel industry and profit-driven environmental degradation, while Democrat Joe Biden embraces the scientific evidence for transitioning to renewable clean energy, affirmative action on climate change and freezing fossil fuel projects.
After the death and carnage at the U.S. Capitol, it may have dawned on some people that Trump, with his dictatorial machinations, together with the support of the Right-wing conservative Republican Party intended to cut the beating heart out of American democracy. A democracy that means nothing to them in favour of their own political power grab and the overriding will of the masters they serve.
We all know Karl Marx’s remark that history repeats itself first as a tragedy and then as a farce... Back in the 1960s, Herbert Marcuse remarked that the lesson of Nazism seems to be the opposite one: first as a farce (throughout the 1920s, Hitler and his gang were mostly taken as a bunch of marginal political clowns), then as a tragedy (when Hitler effectively took power).
As a Right-wing political strategy, Hitler did exactly what Trump did — created a non-existent enemy and drove social division with lies to divide and conquer his fellow countrymen.
As part of a numbers game strategy to gain votes, the political Right has created a base who explicitly reject the principle of democracy and are unknowingly ready to accept authoritarian rule in the belief it will benefit them in some unknown way at some unknown point in time. We are lucky that the object of their veneration is crippled by narcissism and cognitive decline, not realising that the greatest loss under authoritarian rule will be their own freedom and prosperity. Other totalitarian regimes embraced by Trump have been telling examples.
Out of this “cognitive decline” has emerged a substantial radical-Right movement, a combination of White supremacist, pandemic-denying, climate-denying conspiracy theorists. It’s class-based and, as in fascism, is a combination of a lower-middle-class White mob afraid of losing their privileges, ready to die for the cause of White privilege and “our way of life”, with their discreet billionaire enablers winding them up to use them. It's a lie and it's an illusion used by authoritarians to divide society to win votes and then benefit themselves by controlling the government.
The dimension of what the Trumpist protesters embrace is truly disturbing — primitive tribal racism, sexism, White supremacy and bigotry. The dimension of what the Trumpist protesters are denying is even more terrifying — catastrophic climate change threatening the very existence of humanity itself and a raging pandemic having killed 435,000 Americans in the first year.
At this point, it's probably worth noting that the pandemic shut down global and domestic travel and the demand for oil plummeted. Oversupply and oil storage became the big problem. Prices bottomed and, without storage, oil production would need to be shut down, some wells permanently. To continue burning oil, Trump and his “big oil” backers pushed for America to re-open too early and literally fueled the pandemic. The virus was politicised by the Right and became a weapon of social division with the underlying objective being to continue burning oil and maintain profit.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. This effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
Among the play of those heartfelt words, we need to keep firmly in mind that Donald Trump stands for radical division. Amplifying the "us against them" and the “enemies of the people” mindset, to gain radical support. The only proper way to defeat Trump is to demonstrate that his division is a false one, a fabricated political lie to win votes and hold power. The division in society is cultivated by such politicians and their supportive media as a political strategy.
After the insurrection and as they face the full force of federal prosecution, what the Trumpists are now starting to realise is that they were duped by Donald Trump and, all along, it was a “big lie” to garner votes and a massive betrayal perpetrated against the American people.
Republican senators and House representatives not objecting to Trump's insurrection and attempted coup are telegraphing to the world that they hold democracy and the will of the American people in contempt. These Right-wing politicians are inviting authoritarian rule and the good people of America need to show they object by removing self-serving dissidents from public office at the next election. In retrospect, they will always be seen as a dark and destructive force.
Disturbingly, Trump has followed the conservative politicians' playbook and you can apply the same basic principles to every insidious Right-wing government attempting to control Western democracies to favour themselves and the big players they represent. As the gravity of the U.S. Capitol insurrection sinks in, in reality, Donald Trump and his enablers, supporters and like-minded politicians will be seen by history as “them” and the real “enemies of the people”'.
What has unfolded in Western governments, if you cut through the propaganda, boils down to policy in relation to fossil fuel versus climate action. As another prime example, democratically elected Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull responsibly proposed a climate action policy and was promptly usurped from within his own political party by climate-denying, fossil fuel promoting interloper and current Right-wing conservative Australian PM Scott Morrison. Morrison, being one of Donald Trump's favourite backroom buddies and ardent supporters, with a shiny medal from Donald to prove it.
As a slap in the face and wake-up call to Morrison, Joe Biden signed executive orders on climate and moved to lead the world in tackling climate change, while his climate envoy cited Australia's black summer of bushfires as evidence of the need to act urgently. Meanwhile, Scott Morrison continues to push fossil fuel on behalf of his backers.
Together with Americans, Australians have witnessed first-hand a force that would divide a political party and a nation for control of their governments. For thinking Australians, there is clear evidence of political manipulation and an assault on democracy that must be addressed. For those being brainwashed by Right-wing media, please look for the facts and the evidence to support your views and avoid being used by unscrupulous and corrupted politicians. Don't throw away your integrity and ruin your life based on false narratives like so many have done in America.
Stephen Fitzgerald is a humanitarian and social activist fighting for freedom, democracy and a fair go for everyone.
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