Australian Conservatism is Finished

30

Last week the Australian senator Cory Bernardi formally resigned from the Liberal party in protest at conservatism having lost its way and the party’s leaders doing nothing to halt the slide into irrelevance. His decision was not surprising at all, considering that he had been hinting about it for months. He has formed a new party called Australian Conservatives. From an email he sent out to supporters on the day of his resignation announcement, we can gleam some idea of its agenda:

“Australian Conservatives will stand up for the principles that have made Australia such a great place and which have been abandoned by the political class beholden to half-baked solutions, costly fads and the sound of their own voices.”

Bernardi organized a press conference where he spoke for over 30 minutes, which I presume was less about wanting to deliver new and startling pronouncements but more about wanting to maximize his air time before he slides into total irrelevance.

Watching the video, I was struck by how badly he managed the assembled media. For someone who claims to have been inspired by Trump (and Bernardi was even in New York during the US election where he met with key Trump campaign coordinators), he seems to have learned nothing from Trump’s own example. The US president would have made mincemeat of the reporters that badgered Bernardi with inane questions, misdirections, non-sequiturs, and straw-man arguments. But Bernardi merely attempted to parrot his stock lines while meekly attempting to steer the journalists back to his core arguments. It just went in circles the entire time which is situation completely normal here in Australian politics.

It used to be the standard situation in US politics until Donald Trump arrived and blew up the entire media edifice. He got them to dance to his tune. Trump is not a Republican and nor is he a conservative. He is something entirely new, and that was what was needed because conservatism has failed, and it cannot be resurrected because it has been failing for fifty years. You can’t fix that amount of failure. You need to start again with something completely new. You need to blow up the system.

So I watched Bernardi’s performance with a heavy heart. But I still gave him some measure of hope to succeed. That hope lasted for a whole five days. At the end of last week, conservative opinion pages exploded with the terrible news that a conservative cartoonist had made a nasty and horrible joke against gays and Muslims at a private function. I mean, who needs the Left when we do their own dirty work for them? But then Senator Bernardi dived head-first into the action, damning Pickering and former conservative politician Ross Cameron who was present at the function.

“Outspoken independent senator Cory Bernardi has hit out at cartoonist Larry Pickering and former Liberal MP Ross Cameron for delivering an ‘own goal’ against conservatives by making ‘totally inappropriate’ comments at a controversial fundraising dinner.”

Bernardi has learned nothing from Trump. He believes that we can save conservatism by damning conservatives in our midst for saying things that are deemed unacceptable by the Left. Conservatives have become so inured to the progressive Left political agenda that they parrot it as their own and use it to police their own ranks. Australian conservatives cannot be trusted to undo the damage done by progressivism because they themselves have been infected by the same virus. Conservatism is dead in the water and Bernardi’s new party is a dead man walking. It is over even before it has begun.

Contrast Australian conservatives’ performances with the release of Marine le Pen’s first campaign advertisement.

A commenter at centre-right blog Catallaxy files took issue with the clip.

“Interesting Le Pen had wall to wall whiteys.

You think she’d have a least a few tokens from the colonies — most of them are productive, industrious Frenchmen.”

This is completely incorrect and misleading. No natives from French colonies are Frenchmen, productive or otherwise. A native Algerian is no more a Frenchman than a native Frenchman is an Algerian. This is the great lie of multiculturalism that has been swallowed and is now regurgitated by conservatives, which has resulted in an appalling level of cognitive dissonance.

But Le Pen knows and understands this. It is no coincidence that there are only white people in that video because only white people are French, just as only black people are Ugandan. Three decades of identity politics has resulted in the inevitable push-back. If you make everything about identity, don’t be surprised when the people that you hate go and reclaim their identity for their own.

We had our own version of Le Pen in Australia. Unfortunately, she was twenty years early. In 1996 when Pauline Hanson warned that we were in danger of being swamped by Asians she was laughed off the national political stage. But anyone walking around an Australian city today who is intellectually honest and who has the power of sight must concede that she was correct.

Hanson is still on the political stage and she is back stronger than ever. Only she has the potential at this stage to turn the rot around. Conservatives have ceded the playing field, and while they do not admit it yet, their actions betray their obsolescence.

This article was originally published at https://pushingrubberdownhill.com/ where Adam Piggott writes regularly and brilliantly.

  • David Hiscox

    Personally, I have a lot of time for Cory Bernardi, and I am prepared to give him plenty of time. My favourite part of this article is the following: “No natives from French colonies are Frenchmen, productive or otherwise. A native Algerian is no more a Frenchman than a native Frenchman is an Algerian. This is the great lie of multiculturalism that has been swallowed and is now regurgitated by conservatives which has resulted in an appalling level of cognitive dissonance. But le Pen knows and understands this. It is no coincidence that there are only white people in that video because only white people are French, just as only black people are Ugandan. Three decades of identity politics has resulted in the inevitable push-back. If you make everything about identity don’t be surprised when the people that you hate go and reclaim their identity for their own.” Go Adam. Love it.

    • Dan Flynn

      Hi David,
      If a native Algerian moved to France and got French citizenship, then married a French native and then had children, would the family be considered French? Perhaps French with Algerian ancestry? I fail to see how the ‘lie of multiculturalism’ factors into this situation.
      Cheers

      • Craig

        No.

        • Dan Flynn

          A man of few words Craig, but clear and to the point.

      • I happen to agree with you to an extent Dan (dammit), and that’s why I emphasise faith and belief over racial determinism. My opinion (which I hope triggers you) is that we should prioritise Christian immigrants, then base our decision about others based upon their adaptability to our culture. East and South Asians, for example, are compatible, in my view. Muslims are not.

        My position is that dogmatism on either side with regard to race is lunacy. The new right’s view has been formed in response to equally ludicrous ‘magic dirt’ theory that the leftists have told us all to believe – that different races and cultures are essentially interchangeable and that as soon as they land immigrants become citizens as much as anyone else.

        • Dan Flynn

          Hi Moses,
          I’m glad we agree to some extent. There are many examples of multiculturalism that work well for us. If we met up for dinner I’d suggest either Indian, Thai, Italian or Moroccan 🙂
          I also wouldn’t agree that cultures are interchangeable, we are different and sometimes other cultures are difficult to understand. I personally wasn’t thrilled at the idea that some women have to cover their faces when they goes outside. It seemed oppressive and unreasonable. However after talking with some Muslim women about it, I realized that many Muslim women don’t feel forced into it, they choose to wear it due to sacred religious beliefs. Others are forced into it however so it’s difficult to tell.
          I’m beginning to understand why so many conservatives or people on ‘the new right’ are so pissed off at Leftists. Honest and respectful communication in the key, too often Leftists take a tokenistic viewpoint that it not helpful and comes off as judgemental and whiny.
          Having said that, I’m a strong believer that people can integrate into Australia and also hold onto their culture. Otherwise I’d be having meat pies and fish fingers every meal.
          Cheers
          Dan

          • Adam Piggott

            Why is that when people want to espouse the positives of multiculturalism the only thing they can ever come up with is the food.

          • Dan Flynn

            Because it’s a really good point.

          • Warty2

            I get the feeling Bucky was emphasising why multiculturalism has very little going for it. If it is just the food then we are barely enriched at all, unless you take the adage ‘we become what we eat’ literally.
            Personally, I’d feel very cheated indeed if I became Somalian after eating a Somali version of couscous.

          • Hi Adam. Yes, I have always noticed that too.
            The average mug punter just states:
            “But multiculturalism is so wonderful,we have all these different restaurants to choose from now.”
            No other positives are ever mentioned.
            Example :
            What are the advantages of importing bulk numbers of Sudanese or Somalis ?
            Is there any upside, given what is happening in Melbourne with these ethnic groups ?
            Maybe they have good food !

          • There you go again being reasonable. It’s so interesting that you focus on the experiential and novelty aspects of immigration – about which you are quite correct. No-one could go for pizza in Carlton or Chinese in Cabramatta and think multiculturalism is a bad thing. That’s true, and I enjoy ethnic food enormously. My wife is actually an immigrant, to be frank. Her country’s food is much better than the chops and veg I grew up with, although not as healthy.

            The thing is, those immigrants still changed the country. Where rightists differ from leftists is that our worldview is very much grounded in our particular ethnic and cultural identity. This way of thinking seems boorish and medieval to the left, yet to us the left wants to destroy the thing which is dearest to us in all the world. It’s also a mindset which is more common outside the West than inside it. Try importing millions of Bangladeshis into South Korea and see what the locals do to you. And they’d be right to, because although you’re bringing in nice curry, you’re still destroying South Korea as we have known it (consider that last bit underlined).

            Moral psychologists have done some great work explaining these worldview differences between the left and the right. I’d recommend Jonathan Haidt and Jordan B. Peterson. Here are two good entry points into their work:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SOQduoLgRw&t=28s

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcEJr8h_yGM

            For a less sympathetic and more rightist perspective, you could try r/K theory. It’ll test how open-minded you are, though:

            http://www.anonymousconservative.com/blog/the-theory/rk-selection-theory/

      • entropy

        “would the family be considered French?”

        Citizenship is recognised on an individual basis and doesn’t apply to families. But to answer to your hypothetical:

        The French partner would be French.

        The children would be French but with chips on their shoulders because of their migrant heritage that, despite millions of dollars and thousands of hours of air time spent on various programs to assauge their hurt feelings about petty schoolyard bullying and their own (racist) perceptions of not fitting in, leaves them vulnerable to radicalisation.

        The Algerian would be a dual citizen who, in cases of conflict, would default to the ethnic superiority of Algerians (his immutable biological identity).

        • Adam Piggott

          The other extremely important consideration is the number of Algerians immigrating. A few here and there can be absorbed. But once the numbers begin adding up then inevitably they congregate with their own, and then we have what’s happening now.

          • entropy

            Since culture is just the formalization of social norms, this is entirely predictable. Individual migrants are motivated to integrate into the new culture to conform, but blocs of them will reflect and reinforce the norms of their homelands. This manifests in what you might call cultural evolution or cultural erosion, depending on your point of view.

        • Dan Flynn

          Point taken, although ‘petty schoolyard bullying’ can be extremely psychologically damaging. You might think people are weak if they allow that to happen but it’s a common precursor to mental illness and suicide.

          http://www.livescience.com/53034-childhood-bullying-lasting-mental-health-effects.html

          Cheers

          • entropy

            A very interesting and important topic, Dan. I know what you’re saying and I wasn’t trying to trivialise bullying in general. That said, I’d want to see compelling evidence that bullying is a ‘precursor to’ (i.e. causes) mental illness. The mentally ill are often bullied for being mentally ill, but there are no feasible models for pathways to mental illness from bullying alone.

            I take particular issue with those who are quick to blame suicides on bullying. If bullying ’causes’ someone’s death, that’s murder or manslaughter, not suicide. By definition, suicide is when you kill yourself.

            If there is a generic ’cause’ of suicide, it’s likely to be lack of social support. Very rarely do those with healthy networks of family and friends kill themselves, regardless of the circumstances. So I find it particularly irresponsible when, for example, parents effectively blame the suicide of their child on the actions of other school children, based on second- or third-hand reports.

            If suicide caused by bullying is really an epidemic, I’d expect this list to be much longer:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicides_that_have_been_attributed_to_bullying

    • Igor Rogov

      When general Charles de Gaulle marched Algerians to do dirty work for the French resistance, cut throats of all these dirty Nazi sympathizers, he effectively made the soldiers and their families into first-class French citizenry while demoting people like Louis-Ferdinand Céline to the bottom of society. Same miracle transformation happened to the marxist Jewish intellectuals, they suddenly became more “French” or at least more loyal to the new regime than those grubby fascists. The following decades were simply a development of these novel ideas, that the “Frenchness” should be defined as something opposite of Nazism. Which is a very wrong and dangerous path, false choice, but an inevitable one.

      • Warty2

        A particularly insightful response, Igor. It is good that Marion Le Pen has stepped away from her father’s policies, particularly his alleged anti Semitism. But though there is a muted sort of Australian nationalism, it doesn’t quite match the fervour that Marion and Trump are able to give rise to. I suspect it never will, quite simply because we are a little too laid back. In any case Cory lacks the Rottweiler instinct of a Donald: he is a little too polite.
        Warty.

        • Igor Rogov

          Antisemitism a century ago was nearly equal to anticommunism, at least smart people like Henry Ford and abovementioned Céline thought so. Apparently Winston Churchill was a member of the same club of antibolshevick antisemites up until late 1920s. But surely in the big politics “forgive and forget” is a key to success, and the true communist or anarchist Jew is now much a rarer commodity.

          So Marie Le Pen shredding antisemitism is only a sign for her being a political realist. Political Islam is far more insidious form of collectivism for the masses at the moment, than the tired marxist dogmas.

          What I don’t really like about Cory that he uses hypocrisy a lot, while claiming to be perfectly upright and no-nonsense guy. Say, he opposes the Halal certification while simultaneously not paying any attention to Kosher certification (which is pretty much the same thing in essence and appears on the same packages). I see the good reason for rejecting one and quietly accepting another, but this good reason is utterly hypocritical in nature. Perhaps, Cory need either to be open about his culturally motivated sympathies (say, I embrace the notion of Judeo-Christian civilization) and antipathies or to try and fix his approach to these matters to be truly upright and conscientious.
          I only picked one thing as an example, then there is an abortion issue that may be needed to be picked apart.

        • Igor Rogov

          ntisemitism a century ago was nearly equal to anticommunism, at least smart people like Henry Ford and abovementioned Céline thought so (and having my own grandfather being an antisemite for a good reason of being tortured by communist Jews I tend to agree).
          Apparently Winston Churchill was a member of the same club of antibolshevick antisemites up until late 1920s. But surely in the big politics “forgive and forget” is a key to success, and the true communist or anarchist Jew is much a rarer commodity nowadays.
          So Marie Le Pen shredding antisemitism is only a sign for her being a political realist (Churchill was more of a visionary I suppose). Political Islam is far more insidious form of collectivism for the masses at the moment, than the tired Marxist dogmas and there are more right-wing and libertarian Jews than ever in history.
          What I don’t really like about Cory that he uses hypocrisy a lot, while claiming to be perfectly upright, conscientious and no-nonsense guy. Say, he opposes the Halal certification while simultaneously not paying any attention to Kosher certification, which is pretty much the same thing in essence, utterly barbaric and manipulative, and the label appears on the same packages, often together with Halal logo, which is very funny, although nobody seems get the joke.

          I see the good reason for rejecting one and quietly accepting another, but this good reason is utterly hypocritical in nature. Perhaps, Cory need either to be open about his culturally motivated sympathies — say, I embrace the notion of Judeo-Christian civilization and antipathies — or to try and fix his approach to these matters to be truly upright and conscientious.
          I only picked one thing as an example, then there is an abortion issue that may be needed to be picked apart.

    • Warty2

      I too have a lot of time for Cory, but I do agree with Adam, that his condemnation of Ross Cameron (for whom I have even more time) and Larry Pickering were bordering on the incomprehensible. Think back to 2012 and his ‘slippery slope’ argument and Cory’s condemnation of the pair just does not add up.
      Warty.

  • Deplorable Steve

    I hope you are wrong Mr Piggott. Hopefully the Australian public, or a large chunk of it, is still prepared to give Bernadi their vote, despite his un Trump like style,,,

  • Ray Johnston

    I watched his press conference that day and feel the same as Adam. What a sad performance. What a sad man. Meek and mild in the face of these 20’s y.o. progressive leftist reporters. I imagine Cory almost pleading “oh please don’t call me far-right,rascist,bigot etc, oh please I just want to be friends, oh please I just want to cooperate with everyone. Maybe he really is so stupid to think that that will work out for him or he knows what they did to Pauline and he’s not man enough to take it and give it back. You are all doomed if you just want to friends.

  • I think Bernardi and his new party are a dead man walking.
    I like him, his intentions and aims are good, but he is off to a bumbling start.
    There was no shock and awe, it was all very pussywillow and namby pamby.

    Unfortunately, he is not a great orator, nor does he come across as a politician with any sort of magnetic charisma. Certainly no Trump !
    He might end up with a small party that leeches a few votes from the Coalition, but I really can’t see him making a big impact.
    I am putting my money on Pauline and One Nation as our best hope.

    Good article, Adam. Thank you.

  • Craig

    Hopefully all the Liberal plants infesting One Nation, particularly the QLD state party will run to Bernardi’s party.

    Bernardi is already cucking out, so in effect he’s doomed to failure.

  • Lorraine

    all those lovers of free speech, BUT there is a line………If the left can lie and cheat the right sure can use a few bad words put into a sentence and challenge Bolt Blair and all those elite believers of free speech………..Free is whatever you wish to say, the law is do not incite violence with your speech

  • Addelad

    “From an email he sent out to supporters on the day of his resignation announcement, we can gleam some idea of its agenda”
    It is such pedantry, but alas – no matter how I try to pretend to myself that it doesn’t matter – such errors diminish the value of a written piece. It might gleam in many other ways, but that pesky error stays there, like a rancid morsel in an otherwise excellent dish.

  • aussiegooner

    Bernardi espouses conservative principles, always has and always will. It’s what he advocates and believes in, not whether he handled some dismal press conference well or indifferently. I follow principles, and policy based on those principles. Not everyone is a Trump with larger than life personality. That doesn’t make Bernardi any less acceptable to me.

    Let’s face it, turnbull got his job on supposed popularity and personality, and he’s a dud. I’d rather have a more boring PM like Howard who does conservative and governs well.

  • Gregoryno6

    I read this before breakfast and did a little research during lunch. (Pinup Town is a definite no-no on the work computer.) Google News to see what the lefty papers specifically said about Bernardi’s performance.
    None of them were as harsh as you, Adam. Not even the Guardian.
    If there was any hint of weakness I figure they would have been on it in a flash. They clearly didn’t like his ideas but they didn’t mock or ridicule his presentation.
    Maybe he was laid back and measured when you were expecting a sword and oaths of war.

    • Adam Piggott

      How could they mock him if it was just business as usual? The fact that they did not mock him betrays my point that he was trying to play by their rules as per normal.

      Now if he had run that press conference with even a shadow of the attack dog of Trump then we would have seen some fireworks in the press. That they did not attack him means that they do not perceive him as a threat. I agree that he was measured but I repeat that the juvenile press ran that press conference, not Bernardi.