Former PM Tony Abbott’s stance on migration is fueling White supremacists and white replacement conspiracy theorists, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark.
DEMOGRAPHIC ANXIETY is a terrible thing, bound to push those who suffer from it to extremes.
In Europe, the sense that certain peoples are vanishing before hordes, floods and dedicated breeders has led to a global phenomenon of emotional terror. Get thee to bed and bring forth a milk-white, Christian race, is the call of the demagogues. This has found form in harsh policies from Copenhagen to Budapest directed at refugees and migrants.
Notes Human Rights Watch in its 2019 World Report:
'Despite falling numbers of migrants arriving at the borders of the European Union, populist leaders in the EU states sought to use the issue of migration to stoke fear and increase their support in the polls.'
Australia’s own solid representative of this trend is former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has made it his ongoing mission to rail against various invasions that threaten Christian civilisation. Since being given the boot from the Federal seat of Warringah by voters in May, he is on a global sojourn of conservative regeneration, venting against the obstructive forces of Brexit and admiring anti-immigration stances with childlike enthusiasm.
Earlier this month, at the UK Policy Exchange, the now very free Abbott gave a speech making no secret of his animosity to the EU in general — an entity he accused of suffering paralysis:
28 quasi-independent countries, large and small, relatively rich and relatively poor, all with different languages, different histories, different ancient attachments and different ancient antagonisms, all needing to act-in-unison, all heeding the same faceless Brussels bureaucrats and worshipping at the altar of climate change and uncontrolled borders. Well, if this nostrum were put forward in an Australian pub, the response would be to ‘tell ‘em they’re dreaming'.
In Budapest, attending the Third Demographic Summit, Abbott proved to be the happiest of campers, comfortable with the theme that promises to be repetitive to the point of self-harm. His host, Hungary’s unreservedly demagogic Viktor Orbán, is doing his best to place detonators under the European project. While he does so with such ideas as Christian Democracy, he reminds those keen to keep that enterprise alive that race and religion come before accommodating pluralism and universal ideals. In other words, let’s call the whole thing off and go back to our warring, tribal ways.
Orbán is also obsessed by matters of the fecund — the "shag factor" of civilisation. If you do not breed appropriate stock, you cannot lead. As a case in point, he has exempted women who have done their bit for Magyar civilisation with four children by not making them pay income tax. “We Hungarians think differently,” proclaimed Orbán earlier this year. “Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children.” The implications are clear: progressive taxation can be circumvented by patriotic, blood-for-state breeding. (Unfortunately, the enemy does not seem to be listening: those who follow Allah are filling the nurseries at a greater rate.)
Understandably, such messages are sheer sweetness for Abbott, who was welcomed by Orbán in glowing terms:
“I extend a special welcome to Australia’s former Prime Minister. It is in part due to his tough policy that we regard Australia as a model country. We especially respect it for the brave, direct and Anglo-Saxon consistency which it has shown on migration and defence of the Australian nation.”
Such notes of praise would have appealed to Abbott’s inner piousness, his sense that the enemy is out there and fortifications need to be built to protect his idea of the singular civilisation. He scolds those such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who express a desire to stop at two children for reasons of limiting climate change.
“Members of the royal family are entitled to have as few or as many children as they choose. But having fewer children in Western countries will hardly make the climate better given all the children that will be born elsewhere.”
For Orbán, there was reverence.
In The Spectator, he wrote gushingly of how Hungary’s Prime Minister had
'... not only transformed the economy but was the first European leader to cry "stop" to the peaceful invasion of 2015 and is now trying to boost Hungary’s flagging birth rate.'
Had this been unreasonable? No, given the background of those coming into Europe’s citadel. “I mean,” he told Summit delegates, “you get a million angry military-age males swarming into a single country in a year. They are not there to be grateful, but they are there with a grievance.”
As Mike Scrafton, former deputy secretary in the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment observed with sharp accuracy, Abbott’s Hungary show was jam-packed with views that “echoed the great replacement theory that sustains White supremacists across the globe”. The "Great Replacement" theory made its bloody, global debut in such places as El Paso in the United States and Christchurch in New Zealand, with gunmen claiming that “white genocide” is an actual category of threat in need of serious reversal.
This is not to say that the former member for Warringah will be wielding a semi-automatic in a quest for combating such replacement. Rather, it suggests that he longs for a broader project of eugenics and cultural redress – breeding, selection, exclusion, adjustment – that will keep matters Christian and tolerably white.
It was a view cited with relish by Orbán (and Abbott), who fears the demographic extinction of Europe far more than any such concerns about climate change or ecology:
“If Europe is not going to be populated by Europeans in the future and we must take this as a given, then we are speaking about an exchange of populations, to replace the population of Europeans with others.”
Such statements would have been accommodated in the Europe of the 1930s, whose obsession with matters of ethnic cleansing did lead to an experiment of mass murder as yet unequalled in the annals of human bestiality.
Such views as those expressed at the Third Demographic Summit in Budapest betray the understanding of men in retreat, desperate figures whose ideas are running out of steam and, in due course, a pulse. Let us hope that their end is not as calamitous as the conditions they are proposing.
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