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The Rise of Hansonism and Strategies for Stopping One Nation

Pauline Hanson's One Nation: Speech given at Socialist Alternative function, July 1997

With David Ristrom of the Greens (Victoria) and Jeff Sparrow from Socialist Alternative


My thanks to Socialist Alternative for organising tonights forum and to the Lincoln Hotel for providing the venue.

I'll do my best to stick with the topic presented for tonight's forum; "The Rise of Hansonism and Strategies for Stopping One Nation", although I must confess the vitriol I feel for this organisation may lead me astray. My apologies in advance.

After a period of relative quiet, One Nation is back in the press. Having received over 20% of the vote in the Queensland elections, and now holding 11 seats out of 89 in the state Parliament, political organisations across the nation are analysing what is mean by this phenomena. Tim Fischer wants a 'reassessment' of Coalition policies on Aboriginal affairs and immigration, John Howard has pushed himself to the limits of his leadership by putting One Nation last on his ballot paper, and the liberal press, such as The Age, bleats 'How Are They Going To Stop Her'?

So what process should be used in an analysis of One Nation? Firstly, we need to identify who are the organisers and suppporters of One Nation. Secondly, we need to identify what One Nation is, what they stand for. Finally, we need to develop policy alternatives and strategies, not just for this present embodiment of Australia's far right, but at the very least to initiate discussions for the long term.

So who is One Nation? I'll begin by defining what it isn't, negative dialectics if you will. One Nation isn't just Pauline Hanson. In fact, I am somewhat objectionable to part of the title for tonight's forum - the rise of Hansonism. The suffix '-ism' presupposes a coherent set of thought. This is a person who doesn't know the meaning of xenophobic, who threatens to sue for defamation over musical satire, and believes that there are three hundred million people living in Malaysia.

Let us not kid ourselves. Hanson is a wooden figurehead set upon a very destructive vessel. To be sure, she's a good political operator. You would have to be to become the Liberal Party endorsed candidate for a Federal seat, to lose your endorsement, and to start a new political movement that has achieved a modicum of success. We need to answer the question in the positive, who is One Nation? Who are its backers?

In a good social scientific manner these questions can be answered by - albeit old fashioned - class analysis. In this case the vested interests embodied in the policies of One Nation are empirically borne with historical evidence. First and foremost, are the major Australian pastoral lease holders, whom, faced with the almost honest High Court judgement's on Mabo and Wik. The second group are Australian capitalists, of a variety of sizes, who abhor the concept of having to display their competence against overseas capital. Both these classes of people have been on the backfoot for sometime now.

These are the classes which are the backbone of One Nation. They are embodied in political organisations, such as the Graeme Campbell's Australia First Party, Australian's Against Futher Immigration, and the anti-Semitic League of Rights. They provided the impetus for the 'Joh for PM' campaign (ah yes, I see looks of recognition by some of the older comrades), and they make up a sizeable percentage in the coalition parties, possibly even the majority. After all, John Howard has in the past supported race-restrictive immigration, and is currently bending over backwards to accomodate pastrolists. Tim Fischer claims that in the wake of the Queensland elections that the Coalition must reassess their approach to One Nation.

But there is also another group which has supported One Nation. After all, pastrolists and incompetent business owners do not make up 23% of Queensland. It is their most sizeable voting section, although I suspect a minority in the One Nation machinery. It is a forgotten working class, whom in a climate of bleakness in the economic system, and disenfranchised from the political system, have cast a protest vote.

I do not immediately propose that this a protest against (for example) just land rights for the indigenous population, or against futher migration from our close neighbours, although one can reasonably suspect that neither of these groups are represented in the One Nation vote. It is protest vote borne of false or even fragmented consciousness, of politically ill-educated working people voting directly against their own interests, and thrashing out against scapegoats who are not part of the problem, but are part of the solution. Remove this ideologically distorted section of support for One Nation and the movement will collapse.

I would like to move on to what One Nation stands for. I believe that their plethora of policies can be summised into three key components; (1) Restriction of immigration to the country on the basis of 'race'., (2) Enforcement of economic and political domination within the country of the indigenous population., (3) National resource allocation to be determined by the favoured members of the ruling class.

Firstly, this question of 'race'. This particularly infuriates me, because I was of the very clear opinion that the biological and anthropological community had, many years ago, discredited racial theory. Yes, it was determined that there are particular physical traits that are linked with other physical traits. No suprise there. No, it was it not possible to elaborate such physical traits into mental or social traits, intelligence, psychological disposition, or moral standards. In fact, it was decided that such an attempt was impossible, as the only mental differences between the species came down to what language was being used.

I want to elaborate on this point a little further. We know what Pauline Hanson thinks of language. Barely capable of speaking one, she recently remarked that she opposes the 'Asianisation' of Australia, and that she does not want to go down an Australian street and not understand what people are saying.

Three points;

  • (1) She'd better stay away from places of learning, as she clearly won't understand what is being said there,

  • (2) She'd better stay away from the City of Darebin, where 51% of the population speak Greek or Italian and

  • (3) She'd better stay away from the indigenous communities. They seem to have a few languages of their own.

But just to take the Darebin theme a little futher a thought 'aboriginal' was the name given to the original inhabitants of Italy, and that 'Asia' was a Greek god. Perhaps in her twisted vision of the world the Greeks and Italians are providing too much (succesful) competition to her fish and chip business. Must be learnt by osmosis from being mediterrean and all.

Restricting immigration on the basis of race is a ludricrous proposal. It is impossible to evaluate racial stock, for starters. What is meant by Asian anyway? Russians from Siberia? Tartars from the Urals? Khazars? Members of the Indian sub-continent? Mongols? Japanese? Koreans? the Annam? Khmer? Cambodians? Persians? Afghans? Philipinos? Malays? Indonesians? The people of Papua, Irian Jaya and New Guinea? The latter would be a particular problem. A quarter of the world's languages can be found in that region. Pauline could traverse the land and not understand hundreds of languages!

At the end of the day, what would happen is either (a) we would have to introduce a system of physical markers for racial purity (such as was in Nazi Germany) or (b) migrants would be excluded from specific nation states. I'm sure our regional trading partners would be thrilled at either prospect. They will, no doubt, take their wealth, both cultural and economic, elsewhere.

Matching the racial restriction of migration, is One Nation's anti-Wik, anti-Mabo positions. A brief comment on those two decisions. The Mabo case determined that there was such a thing as Native Title, that on the advent of the European invasion, that there was continual occupation by social groups of specific and determined areas of land. The Wik case simply determined that when Native Title conflicted with pastoral leases use of the land had to be negotiated. If no negotiation was possible then the pastoral lease would prevail.

This final decision wasn't far enough, in my opinion. It acted on the precedent of legal decision, not the precedent of historical fact. Nonetheless it was a milestone, a milestone that finally put to end the notion of terra nullius, the legal belief that the land was uninhabited, or more specifically, the inhabitants of the land were not be counted among the human species, are were not capable of holding property. Instead, their political rights were determined by a succession of abusive State governments, who in turn, relinquished control to a succession of abusive religious institutions.

Now, it has already been proposed that a significant vested interest supporting One Nation is a number of pastoral leaseholders. Rest assured, the Mabo/Wik decisions put very real stress on their economic activities. Faced with a declining world market, this increasingly environmental unsustainable industry is facing real dire straights, and so they have turned to an attempted land grab of proportions so monstrous that they only match the monstrous history of rapes, poisonings, and murders of the indigenous population.

I would like to move onto the third policy direction of One Nation; this notion of 'rebuilding' the economy through low interest loans. Fine in theory, but a long way from the 'People's Bank' envisaged by Ben Chiefley. Such a loan system is undoubtably orientated towards providing additional benefits to a section of our own ruling class to provide a comparative advantage against competing local international capital. There is little doubt in my mind that the One Nation economic policy will be politically biased, will be against the national and general interest. It will be orientated towards providing subsidised support for dubious business activities run by dubious business idealists.

An one more parting shot; the GST. Now, as far as I know One Nation hasn't adopted a position on the GST to my knowledge. But I would suspect that they will support the proposal in the long run. For starters, it is a regressive tax, which will benefit those already wealthy and put enormous pressure on those already on marginal incomes. So there will be pressure from the One Nation financiers for the proposal. Also, the GST is sufficiently similar to Bjelke-Peterson's 25% flat rate tax proposal.

So what strategies are we to use against One Nation? Well comrades, coming from a radical background, my first inclination is to follow Trotsky's dictum against fascists; equate their head with the pavement. However, this is not (yet) Germany of the late Weimer republic, so at least initially a more civilised approach is called for.

I would like to take up one of Trotsky's proposals in dealing with the extreme right, however, and that is the notion of a United Front. This, to my understanding, is unity in action between working class parties and their allies against the right, encapsulated by the slogan 'March separately, but strike together'. It can be differentiated by the Popular Front whereby an alliance is stitched together with progressive members of the bourgeoisie, and the left organisations become subservient to the meta-body. Instead we should let the progressive bourgeoisie fight their own battles within their own political organisations. My sympathy goes to them.

Of course, forming a United Front is a little easier said than done. It is not helped by the fact that the left of Labor parties are fragmented, often splintered on the most trivial grounds, even though on the practical day to day, here in Australia issues, there is a semblance of unity. Case in point; in the past few weeks, the Democratic Socialist Party, Militant, the Freedom Socialist Party, Socialist Alternative, and the International Socialist Organisation have all held meetings concerned with campaigning against One Nation. In fact, as we meet tonight, the ISO is also holding a meeting at Ross House where the President of the South Coburg branch of the ALP is speaking.

Another issue of tactics against One Nation requires a combination of parliamentary and extra-parliamentary approaches. Experience seems to tell us that the left of Labor organisations are better at the latter, and as such I will defer those specifics to the appropriate speakers. Bare in mind however the value of staying in touch with the Labor Party. With some 13000 members in this State alone, when Labor does eventually get around to flexing its mostly unused political activist muscle the results can be quite impressive.

So, parliamentary tactics then. For starters I believe the ALP has taken a great lead in the demand that One Nation be placed last on all ballot papers. A preferential voting system is supposed to mean that parties are listed in order of preference. In the machinations of the voting system however the Tories would gain a great comparative advantage by exchanging prefernces with One Nation. The fact that this is betrayal of the principle of the preferential system, and will give One Nation seats in Parliament and further legimate their irrational beliefs. Labor has issued this challenge to the other parties for forthcoming elections; list your votes according to preference. If the Tories list One Nation above Labor in these circumstances, we will know where their preferences lie.

In terms of policy, it is utterly important than statements of principle are referenced and propagated to through whatever media possible. One Nation is good news for the tabloids, and they feed off each other like the disgusting parasites they are. For starters, we must discredit race theory, and remind people why it was discredited. We must reject any approach to immigration that discriminates on false criteria; instead we should be seeking the best people from the widest source possible. So much of the strength of a society depends on its cultural diversity. We must remind Australia of the history of indigenous Australia, of the human rights abuses perpetrated against them, of the robbery of their land. We must stick with Wik, and defend native title. Finally, we must develop an alternative economic policy, one that emphasizes government and other forms of social investment (and ownership) of physical and information infrastructure. We must aim for full employment, not just as an ideal, but as a practical task.

At the end of the day, we must revitalise the notion of socialist democracy, and recognise that no matter where we're from or what we look like, that we are stakeholders in this society, and in this world. One Nation denies that principle of common humanity. It seeks to create divisions in society, that are irrational, artificial, and simply wrong. It covers up the fact that the real differences in society is the inequality of wealth of power.

To conclude; comrades, we *still* all live under the shadow of Auschwitz. The fact of the matter is that is now more than one generation since that event and it is possible that the lessons have been forgotten. Least we end up repeating the events of the last mass eugenics program our political passions need be directed that can be summised in two simple words; Never Again!

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