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Understanding Pauline Hanson

July 21, 2016

Instead of virtue-signalling and denunciations, the Australian Left would be better off analyzing the real-world conditions that led to Hanson once again getting herself into Australia’s parliament. Like, Materialism, you know.

First, let’s go back in history to Hanson’s emergence at the Federal election of 1996.

Australia was being tossed about economically by the neoliberal reforms enacted by the Labor Party government which had gained power in 1983*. The long-term effect of these policies has been — wait for it — a significant redistribution of wealth upward to our nation’s One Percent. [SURPRISE! I bet you didn’t see that coming]

The 90s was also the time of Australia’s heroin epidemic. In the city of Sydney (where I am writing these words) it was the Vietnamese gangs which had a significant hold on this trade. In 1994, John Newman (MP) was assassinated by criminals under the instruction of Vietnamese-Australian gangster Phuong Ngo.

These are the conditions which provided such fertile ground for Hanson’s rise twenty years ago. While the spectre of Vietnamese crime gangs has faded (mainly due to so many of its members being in prison), a new threat has emerged — Islam. 

As it stands, no major political party has dared challenge the neoliberal concensus; neither party is willing to tackle Islam head-on, either. While this docile stagnation continues, there will continue to be a niche for the crude populism of Hanson and others like her.

*This process actually started with the Whitlam government of 1972-75. But the Hawke-Keating years saw the deepest and most significant changes.

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