A few months ago I wrote a post which went a little viral. It was a detailed precis about how the Abbott government is descending rapidly into fascism. The fascist traits in this case were defined in 2003 by Dr Lawrence Britt in his very pertinent work “The 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism" which can be found here. Britt looked at the characteristics that defined the rule of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and several of the brutal Latin American regimes and found 14 common traits shared by each of these dictatorships.
14 common traits shared also by the Abbott government.
So in the few months that has passed since I wrote that article what has changed? Has the government turned the tide, realised the error of its ways and started on the long road back to the light?
Things have gotten much, much worse.
The last time I wrote this was pre-budget and pre-Manus Island Kristallnacht.
That’s why I’m re-writing my piece on the fascist nature of the Australian government. As a way of showing you not only how far we’ve sunk but indeed how much further we’ve gone since the last time I sounded the alarm. Let me show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
"Real solutions for all Australians…the plan that Australia needs…deliver a safe and secure Australia…our Plan will make Australia an even better place" this is from their own website!
Or Abbott calling the national broadcaster "unpatriotic" for not singing from his hymn book.
Or the coalition ”will always have an Aussie accent“.
Here Tony calls himself a "pragmatic nationalist”.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
How about appointing the man who was most vocally opposed to the Human Rights Commission as commissioner of the Human Rights Commission?
It’s pretty bad when the United Nations finds you in breach of the Human Rights Convention. Oh did I say breach? I meant 150 breaches.
Don’t worry though, we don’t listen to the Human Rights Commission, especially regarding the unlawful detention of asylum seekers.
Tony Abbott, in a public forum and on public record, being OK with torture.
Asylum seekers having their medications confiscated and not replaced.
Denied asylum seekers access to mental healthcare, then lied about it.
Ignored pleas for better amenities and security at Australia’s offshore processing facility. Resulting in a riot, multiple injuries and the murder of a young man. He had a name, his name was Reza Barati.
After said riot then denied medical attention to the detainees involved.
Finally the government decided a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach was the best solution to the whole mess.
It’s such a fun place that a pregnant mother chose to have an abortion instead of forcing her unborn child to grow up there.
Set up “Operation Sovereign Murders” (alright so that one is a Freudian slip by someone under a lot of pressure, but what did Freud say about the subconscious?)
Forces asylum seekers to stay in a facility abound with unexploded munitions.
A facility which also abuses children.
You do know it’s against international law to arbitrarily detain children right?
There was a report done on the Manus Island facility but don’t worry, you’ll never see it.
I mean it’s not like things are so bad there that people are hanging themselves so on the reg that guards are issued with special noose cutting knives right?
It’s such a horrible place that you couldn’t possibly have it on Australian soil, that would be uncivilised.
The shiny new boats we bought to ship “illegal arrivals” right back where they came from? They don’t need all that expensive safety equipment.
Safety equipment that might prevent them from washing up on the wrong beach and having to fight their way through a perilous jungle. (Although true Australians should honour our tradition of washing up on the wrong beach).
They wouldn’t tear a newborn baby from a mother’s arms would they? You bet your sweet bippy they would.
Cut the ability for detainees to have access to legal representation.
When people flee the war in Sri Lanka and arrive on the sunny shores of Australia we ship them right back to the firefight. So naturally Abbott would be resistant to the idea of a United Nations probe into allegations of war crimes in that country.
In case you were wondering, the verdict was guilty.
Well if you are lucky enough to stay at the Manus detention centre after fleeing the Sri Lankan war, there’s some familiar faces to continue your persecution.
Slashed contributions to the World Health Organisation.
Scrapped the Commonwealth Human Rights Education Program.
Cut all funding to Ethical Clothing Australia and scrapped anti-sweatshop laws.
People, please, stop being so Aboriginal.
We’re not in the business of helping people overseas either, $7.6bn of overseas aid - gone.
Oh yeah, almost forgot, we also opposed nuclear disarmament.
There is a silver lining though. If you do wish to seek asylum in Australia, get good at cricket.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
Three words. Stop. The. Boats.
Or Axe. The. Tax.
Or Lifters. Not. Leaners.
Or Age. Of. Entitlement.
Or End. Wasteful. Spending.
Or any number of the glib three word catchphrases that Abbott likes to employ. By far the major scapegoat is the boat people but the government has also declared war against the carbon tax, the Labor Party and poor people.
Abbott on the world stage trying to rally the international community in his binding hatred for the Labor Party. (A breach of international convention by the way.)
And Tony, you do know that it’s not illegal to seek asylum in Australia right? Because it seems like you don’t know that.
4. Supremacy of the Military Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
In the midst of a “budget emergency” purchasing $12bn worth of shiny new fighter jets.
And $4bn in Poseidon aircraft. Budget emergency remember.
The Navy gets a free ride to do what it likes, it’s not like the ministers read the reports before sealing them for all time or anything.
Here's Labor MP Stephen Conroy being excoriated for daring to question the military.
5. Rampant Sexism The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
“‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’”
“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing”
and“I don’t support women’s causes”
and this, in his mind, puts him in the perfect position to place himself as Minister for Women! (A quick look at that cabinet will show you that it has 18 men and 1 woman. And it’s not like he was short on options, here’s my article on it) To no small measure of controversy.
I mean it’s not like the Minister for Women needs to be a feminist or anything right?
The Minister for Women scrapped the Women’s Leadership Program. (Possibly why there are so few women of merit in leadership positions)
When the ACT legislated that same-sex couples be allowed to marry, Abbott flexed his muscle and unwound it.
Essentially made it illegal for gay asylum seekers to be gay.
Appointed as education reviewer a man who has publicly doubted that inequality of race and gender and calls homosexuality “unnatural”
Oh, I nearly forgot. There was, and still is, Winkgate
6. Controlled Mass MediaSometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
Australia is a tricky case here. Does the government control the media or does the media control the government. At the very least they fulfill the sympathetic media spokespeople and executives requirement.
What about scrapping media monopoly rules?
What about making threats to cut funding to the national broadcaster if they don’t tow the party line? And then, of course, cutting funding to the ABC and SBS. (Of course despite explicitly promising on national television not to do just that)
7. Obsession with National SecurityFear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
Like baseless fear-mongering such as this? Fear the boats. Fear the asylum seekers. Fear the deficit. Fear the fear. I’ve covered this elsewhere, the whole damn article is about how they use fear.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
Surely Abbott would like to distance himself from such a destructive, bombastic reptile? No, he doubles down.
Then there’s the $245m (budget emergency) program to put religious chaplains in schools. These schools of course don’t have the option of a secular equivalent. That would be unholy.
What about Abbott’s holy crusade against old growth forests?
And for good measure opposing the move to scrap the Lord’s prayer in our supposedly secular parliament.
9. Corporate Power is Protected The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
Well for starters there’s the $100m windfall for the mining industry.
Scrapped the mining tax at a net loss of $3.7b
Tried to exempt loggers from the repercussions of breaching the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
How about how Australia’s two most profitable mining companies got $100m?
There’s a lot of interplay between the government and the mining industry actually. Yet another example
The government lied to the United Nations again, this time so that they could help out their buddies in the logging industry.
As a matter of fact we have too much of that pesky environment.
Big, polluting coal mines and ports in one of the seven natural wonders of the world? Not a problem.
This deal allows foreign countries to sue the Australian government if it implements policies which adversely affect their business.
This bill would make it illegal to boycott companies on moral grounds. Thus undermining democracy itself.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
Well for one thing they scrapped Sunday rates for hospitality.
The long term unemployed deserve to stay unemployed.
It’s not like they’re trying to make being in a union illegal are they? Guess again.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
See above Murdoch papers.
Scrapping the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership
$110m worth of funding cuts to the Arts.
$28m in cuts to the Australia Council which grants funding for the Arts.
$38m in cuts to Australia’s film and television industry.
Gutted the Australian video game industry
Destroyed the body for funding innovative start-ups
The Get Reading! program and the Centre for Quality Teaching? Yeah they’re gone.
NICTA, the technology research organisation, that’s gone.
Are you an artist with ethics? Yeah that’s not going to work…
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
No people of quality go out at night, we need to stop that.
Freedom of association? That can go.
13. Rampant Cronyism and CorruptionFascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
After publicly refusing to follow Labor’s lead on refusing political donations from the tobacco industry there was the abolition of the National Preventative Health Agency’s anti-tobacco campaign.
The $882m payout to News Corp, the biggest hole in the budget (budget emergency remember?) probably best not to mention that.
How about a $13,000 rug a Kiribilli House, at the taxpayer’s expense of course.
It’s all there. From the local level right through to Arthur Sinodinos and Barry O'Farrel’s $3000 bottle of wine all the way up to the Abbott daughters.
Want to preserve your business? Make sure you’re in a marginal electorate.
Thanks to Tony ministers no longer have to sell shares that will cause a conflict of interest.
There’s the fact that Frances Abbot received a scholarship to an institution that doesn’t have scholarships. And a job where there is no job. It’s not just restricted to one daughter though, they’re both in the mix.
14. Fraudulent ElectionsSometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
There’s the doubling of election fees to try and keep out minor parties.
Then there’s the missing votes in WA.
The astonishing number of lies Abbott told to weasel his way into office, promises that he had no intention of keeping.
And once more, for good measure, this:
So do you still thing I’m being alarmist? Think I’m being blindly left wing? I’ve just presented an astonishing amount of empirical evidence. Fact. Fact can’t be debated, it just is. This is the horrifying truth. Welcome to the desert of the real.
So what are you going to do about it?