Howard supporters are desperately trying to fend off accusations that he is insidiously remaking Australia into a fascist state. For most, including right-wing blogsites whose posters are simply a frothing-at-the-mouth assortment of racists, Islamaphobics and warmongering Arab-hating Howard supporters, this involves simple outright denials without any attempt or even ability to attempt to justify or qualify their denial. Those other supporters that do attempt to qualify their denial, mainly right-wing commentators in the mainstream press, do so by attempting to show that there are no parallels with Howard’s government and policies with the fascism of the 1920s and 1930s. Such denials are usually accompanied by scoffing and mocking of the accusers by pointing to the obvious lack of parallels.
However, the only parallels made are the obvious ones; the visual images of 1920s and 1930s fascism naturally do not bear any resemblance to the Australia of today, nor indeed, does Howard himself fit the conjured-up image of a ‘fascist dictator’. Such images truly would be laughable. But there is more to fascism than the mere imagery that Howard’s supporters wish to distract the Australian people with in their attempt to belittle the notion of Howard’s new fascism. Typical of this distractive nonsense is this piece of not-so-subtle muddleheaded rubbish from Gerard Henderson at ‘The Age’:
“In Australia in recent years it has become almost a fashion to make reference to Fascism/Nazism and/or communism to score political points. In his book The Right Road, historian Andrew Moore wrote that "it is not so very far from the truth" to "suggest that in 1951 Australian Fascism's headquarters were in the Lodge, Canberra". In other words, Moore maintains that the long-serving prime minister of Australia, Robert Menzies, was really a Fascist. This despite the fact that he declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939.”
The obvious distraction attempt here is Henderson’s reference to a piece from a book that is not about Howard at all but of Howard’s hero, Menzies. And the inference, of course, is, if Menzies is not a fascist (on account of having declared war on Nazi Germany) then how can Howard be? For many this may be enough to convince them that Howard is not a fascist. The historical trappings and imagery of fascism do not fit, it would seem, with the image of Howard being a fascist or at least from the way Henderson portrays it.
But, as I have said before, the new fascism bears no physical resemblance at all to the fascism of yesteryear. The ‘old’ fascism is gone. It can never be resurrected. The ‘new’ fascism disowns the ‘old’ fascism. The new fascism has evolved not from nostalgia for the ‘old’ fascism but instead has morphed from the values and ideals of US neoconservatism which has been embraced by US President George W. Bush. The ‘war against terrorism’ and the neoconservatives’ crusade against Islam has given what was ‘White-Australia’ racist conservatism a new impetus that is transforming itself into the new fascism.
Howard’s opportunity came via his lies at the last election and the resultant influence the government has gained in the Senate. With control of both houses Howard has had a relatively easy time of pushing through his welfare reforms, industrial reforms, anti-sedition laws and voluntary student union laws, all of which have been designed to disempower ordinary everyday working Australians and to diminish their right to dissent, protest and industrial action against both the government and employers. The anti-terrorism laws that are associated with the anti-sedition laws have also served to inspire suspicion and hatred among Australians toward the Muslim, Middle Eastern and Central Asian communities within Australia.
As well as punitive legislative changes being a characteristic of Howard’s agenda of taking us down the road to Australia’s new fascism, the more traditional fascist characteristic of national re-armament is also quietly taking place under the auspices of Howard’s servile Minister for Defence, Robert Hill. Passing almost unnoticed has been his recent remarks about Australia being ready in 2012 for possible conflict in SE Asia. Such conflict, needless to say, would be against China over Taiwan in which Australia would be expected to play a part allied to the US.
Next, it seems, Howard will be pushing for tax changes. He says that he believes tax cuts should be across the board; in other words the super-rich will be getting massive cuts while low income earners will receive a relative pittance and will be continuing to contribute to the bulk of personal tax that’s paid into the government’s coffers in order to pay for the wealthy people’s tax cuts.
2006 will be a decisive year for Australians as we continue to witness Howard’s march to an Australian fascist state.