By Jim Hayes
On Friday last week, Scott Morrison launched a tirade against what he called progressivism.” He insisted that this is a direct threat to the liberties of Australians and made it crystal clear, that he is going to do something about it.
The table thumping style was part playing it up to the assembly of mining bosses attending a function of the Queensland Resources Council. He told them what they wanted to hear. The suits were even angrier than usual. Some people had the affront to spoil their International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC).
IMARC exists as an opportunity to network and chase multi-million-dollar deals.
It was also a testing of the waters. The words were delivered via media, to the rest of Australia. This is exactly what was intended. The cracking down on criticism is on top of the wish list of the prime minister and his corporate backers, and it needs the conditioning of a big enough portion of the public to bring it about.
The lengths to which they are prepared to go to muzzle media, punish whistleblowers, hide behind a veil of secrecy, marginalise sections of the community, and wipe out unions, shows that the threat to use the big stick is real. The prime minister and his friends would like to go much further than they have already.
Morrison’s carefully aimed outburst revealed a weakness and not of strength. His position is weak, because in a fast changing world, the ability to hide that this is government for only a few is getting harder to hide and opposing more difficult to counter.
Critics are not liked. But those who go past words and involve themselves in action to bring about change, are seen as being beyond the pale.
This is the “activism” voiced as a direct threat against the whole of Australia dividing Australia into conflicting camps. It’s rubbish. In any case, it is he that represents the most divisive force, demanding class war to benefit the few.
He pits city against country, carbon emissions against prosperity and jobs.
This are the guns that need answers. Activists do exist in the city and country. Many are involved in combatting the climate crisis and there are those involved in battling for prosperity and jobs.
The government’s own efforts promoting austerity, inequality, the loss of previously established rights and big brother government are helping to unite and increase the ranks of activists.
Some divisions exist. This can’t be denied. But efforts are being made to overcome them.
Scott Morrison’s speech was really about working against unity and dealing with the consequences of what he, his government and their big business backers are doing.
There is more. An emerging trend in Australia is the idea that in existing political circumstances, the powers that be are not even prepared to listen to the concerns of citizens, and the only alternative left is to not play the game.
People are starting to conclude that the way to a better future for all, is to not comply and no longer carry on business as usual. Collective disobedience and disruption is the practical form of this changing consciousness.
The most visible expression of this at the present is Extinction Rebellion. Its methods are based on collective disobedience and disruption, and so have far, proved effective to gain the initiative and keep the power that be on the back foot, and for gaining the support of the public.
People are starting to put themselves on the line, and with this they are losing their fear of making a stand and putting themselves on the line.
Then there are the kids school strikes for the climate, which promises even more activism and disobedience from the upcoming generation.
This is all powerful stuff, and it scares the hell out of Scott Morrison and his mates.
But the effort to hit back is so transparent, that its already showing signs of backfiring. Ever larger numbers are working to resist. The threat compels efforts to build greater unity and extend effective action.
It might just bring the Scomo plan undone.