Contributed by Joe Montero
Tony Abbott is a disgrace and as each day passes, he looks even more ridiculous. But it would be a mistake to just laugh at him. What he does has serious consequences.
This is because what he says is used by some very powerful people. They are pulling the strings and using him, an instrument to push a political agenda. If it were not for this, he would be ineffectual.
Abbott might look like a man whose own hurt and ambitions play their part in his eager willingness to be the spoiler against the man he has a score to settle with Malcolm Turnbull. This is undoubtedly part of it. There is also more.
There exists a section of Australian society that is very accustomed to enjoying greater privileges than others have, and a sizable part of it is worried that this is under threat. Its aspirations and fears are bundled in a mixture of a specific view of Anglo and Christian traditions, utmost faith in the market as a regulator of society, small government and opposition to what regarded as a waste of resources on those regarded as good enough to be counted in their society.
It is a well-documented reality, permeating Australian history and alive and well today. Abbott resonates with this section of Australian society.
This is where Abbott has resonance. He speaks for them. This is what gives him his importance.
Nowhere else, is this born to rule mentality better expressed than through News Corporation’s tabloids, television radio stations. They raise Tony Abbott of national and even international significance and at the same time chip away at the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, suggesting that he is not decisive and militant enough to deliver.
There is a major block within the parliament and the Coalition parties, representing this elite section of Australian society. It is backed and is the political centre of gravity for the creation of a political movement around the Rupert Murdoch view of the world.
One thing the born to rule element has learned over the generations, is that dividing society into hostile blocks is a good way to keep control a fear of others. This is the underlying foundation principle behind the politics of hate that has bubbled up in the last few years.
All this has a lot to do with what Abbott says and why he gets so much attention. He waded in on the side of climate deniers, for example. Now he is putting effort into opposing marriage equality and there is the ongoing crusade against Islam.
Putting forward an opinion is one thing. But when it comes to Tony Abbott, there is much more to it.
The bigger picture is that he is playing a role in the process of creating the new political movement of the privileged, drawing closer sections of the Coalition support base, parts of church hierarchies, One Nation allies and a collection of other odd bods, into a crusade to save the world as they know it.
Battle lines where there shouldn’t be battle lines. Focus is on those issues that can most easily be used to set up villains, to be used as a skeleton, on which to legitimise narrow interests and dupe another part of Australian society into being the unsuspecting foot soldiers of the defence of privilege.
Building division and setting up villains is used to silence critics as well. Borrowing from Donald Trump, all that is not permissible is branded as fake news. Use of vilification and bullying is legitimised.Proper discussion, based on real facts, van be evaded and attention can be turned away from those who are pulling the strings.
With his most recent elevation, Tony Abbott has been on the international stage, playing a similar role, helping similar elements in other counties, facing similar fears and sharing a shared view of the world.
Whether Tony Abbott is fully conscious of his role does not matter. He is still doing harm and hurting people, and for this he should be accountable.