20 June, 2007

John Howard’s Liberal Party is NOT liberal, it’s CONSERVATIVE: A Cautionary Tale for Australian voters

Unfortunately, Howard isn’t stupid, he’s just a very cunning right-wing propagandist. For instance, by agreeing to pose with me, he knew he'd get onto Blogger.com, and any publicity's good for his right-wing agendas. What does “right-wing” actually mean, I hear you ask. The article below aims to clarify the essential differences between the two faces of politics in Australia, the LEFT and the RIGHT (in spite of the fact that these days both Rudd and Howard are veering towards the political CENTRE).
Every country gets confused about particular words. Whereas Australians might say “I’ll see you in a moment”, Americans will express it as “I’ll see you momentarily”. In Australia, people barrack for their favourite team, whereas in all other countries people barrack against teams they dislike. Australians understand “thongs” as rubber flip-flop shoes, but everywhere else they are women’s skimpy panties. Likewise, Aussies have been messed up (but this time DELIBERATELY) about the meaning of the word "liberal".

If you truly understand the meaning of the word ‘liberal’ (note the small “L”) you surely cannot vote for Howard’s ‘Liberal’ Party. Voting for him is not a vote for liberalism – it’s actually a vote for the precise opposite, the Conservative side of politics. The word “liberal” means “free-thinking”, Left-wing, progressive (ie, willing to consider changing things if a fairer outcome to all is the result). Here’s the Penguin Dictionary:

The only ‘liberal’ or compassionate action Howard has ever taken was to tighten Australia’s gun laws. I give credit where credit’s due – but that decision was forced on a less-than-willing Ducklips by the sad circumstance of the Port Arthur massacre – it wasn’t the result of a naturally compassionate liberal attitude to public welfare. And you may recall the severe backlash he copped from Right-wing Conservatives in the Gun Lobby. Right-wingers still want their guns back so they can be like Billy Bob (see photo) and other American Neo-Conservative Republicans. On the political spectrum, they’re positioned further to the Right than Ghengis Khan's Secret Police.

True liberalism implies a protective Social Conscience – hardly what John Ducklips Howard stands for. To create an extreme Right-wing organization like Howard’s Coalition, and then to give it a Left-wing name like “The Liberal Party” is one of the biggest political hoaxes ever perpetrated on the Australian people. Nor has the deception been challenged by true liberals!! Most kids in high-school this year have never experienced anything political other than Howardspeak, so Labor and Greens have their task cut out. Getting the linguistic genie back into the bottle, re-inventing the political wheel, is going to take a lot of work:

For the sake of honesty, I suggest that the name “Liberal Party” be immediately changed to “Republican Party”. Howard’s "Liberal" Coalition flies the same flag as George Bush’s extremist Christian racist war-monger Republicans, and should NEVER have been labeled as ‘The Liberals’. That was shamefully false packaging, and FunkyPix2 is here today to expose it for what it really is.

Howard’s ideal flag. The only element still missing is a neat Corgi poo in the shape of a Q in the colours green & gold.
Everyone in the world – except Australians – understands the word ‘liberal’ as referring to the more compassionate “worker-friendly” LEFT side of politics, ie, the Labor Party and the Greens in Australia.

In the old days, when Left was Left and Right was Right, the distinction was simpler. In those days you could never mistake a Labor voter’s Holden for a Coalition voter’s V8 Mercedes. The "Reds under the Bed" in the 1960s were Marxists, Socialists, Communists, Trade Unions and Labor. At the other end of the political spectrum were the Blue-blood Conservatives of the Coalition, Ghengis Khan, Pauline Pantsdown, and on the extreme Right, prime ministers the likes of Robert Menzies, John Gorton, and John Dubya Ducklips Howard:

I’ve stolen and adapted two paragraphs to create a brief comparison of Left VS. Right world-views:
* The progressive LEFT-WING world-view is modeled on a nurturant parent family. The Left assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values based on the Australian concept of the ‘Fair Go’ dating from convict days.

* The conservative RIGHT-WING world-view, the strict parent model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good (hence Howard's sympathies with Fundamentalist Christianity). The strict parent is the moral authority (George Pell has kids??) who supports and defends the family, tells his/her spouse what to do, and teaches his/her kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline — physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people who no longer query authority. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world.
The Right-wing Howard Coalition’s idea of nurturing children. Closely resembles Sunday School with Cardinal George Pell.
A straightforward example:

* ...On the issue of violence, the Conservative Howard Right-winger would take the position that the individual was entirely responsible for his own actions, and should be punished accordingly. The liberal Left-winger (Greens, Labor) would look for the root causes of the problem, and try to enact fair policies that would deal with these causes.
* ...Therefore, rather than fight terrorists, the Left would prefer to seek a solution by addressing the root cause of terrorism – extreme Poverty and inequality of opportunity. Labor's liberal Left is more likely to opt for compassionate strategies and compromise when dealing with conflicts, whereas the Right (Howard's Terror Australis?) .goes in with guns and economic weapons (sanctions).

So… what were the historical origins? Why “LEFT”? Why “RIGHT”?
[Screen fades to the year 1789, the era of the French Revolution, and lusty shouts of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, etc…]

Even Doves will peck back in anger if sufficiently provoked.

…when common French citizens, who were pissed off at their King and all his suckhole Nobles, Courtiers and Churchmen, revolted by wrecking the Bastille prison thereby giving Liberté to some of their mates who were unfairly locked up inside. The Commoners were angry that their hard-earned tax money was being used to fund the King’s frivolous follies:

The King, wearing a suspiciously rural-looking crown, hosts yet another ‘Young Un-Liberal’ dinner at Kirribilli Palace (at tax-payers’ expense).
Commoners took control of the entire country (Thailand's coup was gentlemanly by comparison), and promptly invented the French National Assembly. It was an attempt to re-introduce the forgotten ideal of Equality [Egalité], the first experiment in Democracy since the ancient Greeks. Democracy, historically speaking, is only a relatively recent try-on.

When the new National Assembly met, these revolutionaries (the commoners or free-thinking liberals) sat on the left, while the King, Nobles and churchmen (Howard's conservative ancestors) sat on the right. Naturally, the King wanted to conserve his former privileges and those of his rich mates on the Wheat Board:

But in the end, he couldn’t even conserve his own head - he had thrown a big tantrum and insisted he needed oodles more money than anyone else. Adieu, monsieur le Roi. Bon voyage…

So the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ referred merely to seating arrangements, but soon came to represent the opposite ("Downtrodden VS. Privileged") status of the two groups. In England, the same division still persists in the House of Representatives and the House of Lords.

In today’s Australia, the descendants of the liberal left-wing Commoners (mostly convicts) are workers, trade unionists and the Labor Party. By contrast, Australia’s conservative aristocratically-minded Coalition is mostly populated by wealthy toff-nosed right-wing land-owning silver-tails like Ducklips Howard and Lord Alexander Downer, M.P. (relics of the colonial past who, absurdly, are still simpering suckholes to England’s Queen!).

See more flattering ‘stiff-upper-lip’ portraits of Admiral Lord Sir AlexanDUH Downer here, but do have a bucket handy. A friend should tell him never to smile, but (understandably), he doesn't have any friends. My mother once told me that if I couldn't find anything nice to say about someone, then I shouldn't say anything at all... so I won't ;-)
Sad-clown right-wingers like Ducklips and Alex Doughnut are fossilized remnants of Ye Olde Merrie Englande’s ‘Class System’, which is no more than an out-dated apartheid-like mechanism by which rich people maintain their positions of privilege. This is completely at odds with modern Australia’s idea of mateship and the ‘Fair Go’. The liberal Left prefers mechanisms of equal opportunity.

Good Queen Liz no longer wants to be involved in the former colony’s business, and doesn’t want to be Queen of it any more. She’s made that clear. People on the political Left think that she’s a nice lady but fail to see why Howard still feels it necessary to borrow some other country’s Head-of-State who has assumed unchallenged power through heredity - and then only because she happened to have no brother. This both contradicts the Australian tradition of the ‘Fair Go’, and is blatantly sexist). Perhaps there is an un-mapped Australian gene, a throwback to Ye Olde Merrie Englande, which still brings out a child-like wish to be protected by some imaginary monarch-saviour, parent, figurehead, teddy-bear. Any icon of royalty will do, but we don't have enough confidence to produce our own yet, apparently. No tall poppies, please - we're Strayans.

Conservatives ever since 1789 have played on the double meaning of the word “Right” insisting that it implies “correct”, as well as incessantly punning on the Latin word for ‘left’ (which, unfortunately, translates as “sinister”). With a little hindsight, it may have been wiser for the French Commoners to have chosen to seat themselves on the right side of their National Assembly. But hey, that’s history for you...

So to this day, conservative right-wingers (Tories) still sit on the right-hand side of parliament:

We'll conclude this article with some examples of the opposing world-views of the liberal Labor Left and Howard’s Conservative Right-wing Coalition:

The Left’s liberal attitudes favour Peace rather than War whenever possible. Recall that it was the liberal Left and the Unions which led the anti-Vietnam Moratorium marches in the late 1960s. FunkyPix2 was there - with more hair than nowadays.

As a result, the ultra-conservative RSL naturally prefers HoWARd’s aggressive right-wing militarism and big "Defence" spending. So does Big Business, because War = Profit via weapons sales, supply and reconstruction contracts [read: Viagra for the Economy]. To Howard’s right-wing ‘Sunday-Christian’ conservatives, globalized money is more important than morality or ethics, so they’ll trample on any people - or even countries – to get it. Honest John even invented improper-ganda (=outright lies) to excuse triggering an unnecessary war. Now he's even purchasing internationally-banned cluster bombs ...and there are still a few stiff upper-lip Tory diehards who want to re-elect him!

The liberal Left (Labor and Greens) prefers to protect the Common people in big issues that commoners cannot do alone, such as national energy policy. On the other hand, Howard’s wealthy right-wing business mates have set up a private company, Nuclear Fuel Australia, which plans to process uranium AND build nuclear power plants in Australia – but only if Howard wins the coming election. Read between the lines, folks! Which way should YOU vote?

And speaking of the Environment

The midnight oil is running out. Peter G., in his new 'real' job, appears concerned about Australia’s carbon footprint, whereas both John W. Howard and George W. Pell are still Climate Change skeptics. Right-wing conservatives like Howard and Pell are often members of the Flat Earth Society or the Alice Springs Surf Club, and still don't want to believe that the pope has debunked Limbo.
Shamefully, Australia’s per capita carbon footprint is still the largest in the world, despite Howard’s panicky pre-election bleating that he’s doing something to reduce it. His so-called “Liberal” (!) Coalition is stalling (as usual), and he’s talking about his great plans… that is, er, provided China makes the first move. How’s THAT for moral leadership, huh?

Labor, the Greens, and others on the liberal Left are more protective of the Environment than Howard’s Not-Liberal conservative Coalition. I can never forgive Howard’s shameful failure to sign up to Kyoto, the Coalition's sellout of Tasmanian old-growth forests to pulp-mills, or Bjelke-Petersen’s criminal destruction of the precious world-heritage Daintree Coastal Rainforest. The list is lamentably long.

People on the Left of politics believe in Equality (remember the French Revolution), therefore prefer to distribute money as equally and fairly as possible via taxation concessions given to poorer people. It comes from a greater sense of consideration for the plight of fellow human beings - the “Fraternité” .bit from the French Revolution motto).

As an example, Howard’s pet attack-dog Costello recently accused the Labor states of wasting federal money on salary increases for teachers and nurses! "Wasting??" Liberal-thinking Left-wingers like me actually feel that low wage-earners ought to be able to earn enough $ to cover both rent AND food without resorting to a second job... a little issue which Howard’s WorkChoices’ seems to conveniently sideline in his unashamed effort to keep profits for corporations rather than sharing them more fairly with employees.

Many of Howard’s right-wing Conservatives (like George Bush’s Republicans) are wealthy tycoons, the owners of factories and mines, yet Howard gives them more tax benefits than their workers!
And never forget that the poorer you are, the more Howard’s GST punishes you, whereas that extra 10% is zilch for a wealthy person (thanks for nothing, Meg Lees). How do you think Costello continues to conjure up such huge surpluses in his Budgets? No Australian government, be it on the Right OR Left, has ever been able to produce rabbits-out-of-the-hat for TEN successive Budgets. The simple reason? It’s mostly your GST money, ie, money which YOU could have spent. But Howard decided he knew better than you. He had an oil war to fight.

And as I write, there is a huge increase in the number of poor Australian families bleeding their Superannuation fund just to keep their mortgage alive, and retail spending figures are up only due to credit cards. So… whose side are YOU on? Will you vote Left or Right this time?

The Left’s belief in Equality extends to Health Care and Welfare support for people who cannot afford to pay, whereas Howard’s right-wing Coalition callously wants to make all people look after themselves by paying for private health care. Both Howard and Bush have therefore starved the public health system of money with an uncaring “sink-or-swim” attitude to the poor. Hospital waiting lists are impossibly long, and we live in a 'developed' nation! (Michael Moore the American left-wing activist, has based his film Sicko
on this right-wing “let-them-eat-cake” dismissive and patronizing attitude.)

Howard’s right-wing Conservatives believe that being poor and disadvantaged (or belonging to a member of a minority group like blacks, women, or dwarf blind lesbian refugees with AIDS) is logically your own ‘fault’, and is therefore your own responsibility to ‘fix’. In Right-wing fascist circles, these attributes are imagined as crimes. Although Conservatives profess to be Christian, their uncaring attitude seems strangely at odds with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, does it not?
(And BTW, how do you spell “S-O-R-R-Y” ?)

A photo can say it all. These right-wing Conservative Bush supporters in the USA are philosophically identical to Australians who vote for the narrow-minded Howard-Hanson régime and all the Racism and petty hatreds it preaches.
So, in summary, the natural political habitat of Australians is clearly on the Left, ie Greens, Democrats, or Labor. That all dates back to the Eureka Stockade. But it seems that voters don’t take logic or history into account when making choices at the ballot-box. It is an ingrained but unspoken tradition that when hard times, war, or other crises strike, people unaccountably defer to right-wing conservatives. That’s why Howard and Bush feel it necessary to stir up fear of a foreign enemy in order to keep a grip on power at home.

Nevertheless, Australian and American elections are these days, unfortunately, mostly propaganda concerning personality, not policy. Voters seem to crave a figurehead who they feel is a strong leader, even if that leader says and does crazy, cruel and criminal things. Like George W. Bush, like Tony B. Liar, like Maggie Thatcher or Thaksin Shinawatra …or
John Dubya Ducklips Howard.

Hopefully this article has given some tools for more informed analysis in a complex world. As George Soros said, "Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition, there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes". Have the courage and strength of character to be out of line with your drinking mates down at the RSL when the topic of Howard comes up. They'll respect you for it:

Although it’s far from comprehensive, try the World’s Smallest Political Quiz to find out where you’re located on the political spectrum. However, if you are a qualified cynic like FunkyPix2, you’ll automatically query WHO it was who put this quiz together, and what their underlying agenda might have been. Left-wingers don’t accept any authority on face value.

.............................. Blog softly and carry a big sticker.

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