Melbourne based far-right and fascist groups the True Blue Crew and the United Patriots Front have teamed up and announced a joint rally “celebrating” the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency, this Sunday at Parliament House (Melbourne).
This rally is the latest in a series of attempts by far-right groups and politicians in Australia to hitch a ride on the Trump bandwagon.
Last Tuesday, as the US presidential election results began to indicate a possible Trump victory, Pauline Hanson jumped to be the first to “congratulate President Trump”. She cracked a bottle of champagne for the cameras outside Parliament House and announced that if Trump were an Australian, she had no doubt he would join One Nation.
South Australian bigot and Senator, Cory Bernardi, has gone further, posting pictures of himself on Twitter wearing a Trump-esque peak-cap emblazoned with the slogan “Make Australia Great Again”.
For the likes of Christensen and Bernardi, the election of Trump offers an opportunity to drive Australian politics further to the right. To their eyes, the election of Trump proves the existence of a more explicitly racist “discontented” mass; a constituency whose “discontent” who can be harnessed to advance the cause of their brand of “conservative” politics.
Yesterday. Bernardi re-tweeted a comment by Rita Panahi that doubtless reflects their point of view:
“There’s never been a better time for disaffected conservatives to take the Liberal Party back from the hopeless bedwetters who are spooked by gallery chatter and Twitter storms.”
The hard-right of the Liberal Party aren’t the only force racing to relate to the potential constituency that is supposedly represented by Trump, One Nation and Brexit abroad.
The Guardian reports that the ALP’s Jim Chalmers will today give a speech calling on his party to do more to relate to people drawn to Hansonism in Australia (which is apparently interchangeable for Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK).
Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers will launch a plea for Australian politicians to engage with the group of voters “trampled” by the impact of globalisation and technological change – arguing Hillary Clinton may have lost the US election when she branded Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables”.
There is something darkly ironic about this when we consider that since 1983 the ALP has probably done more than any other party to bring about the impacts of “globalisation and technological change” in Australia. The ALP, more than the Liberals, gave us “free trade”, industrial relations deregulation, deindustrialization, and ongoing (and increasingly precipitous) decline in trade union density.
Militant and independent organised labour is the left’s traditional answer to the growth of right-wing populist politics, but organised labour in Australia has been rendered toothless and ineffective because of it’s ongoing and slavish subservience to the political agenda of the ALP.
The ALP is not capable of realizing that it itself is one of the big factors that has precipitated the decline in organised labour, and that it acts a barrier to an effective organised response to the rise of Hansonism.
If the ALP tries to relate to ‘this phenomenon’, it will likely do so by shifting further to the right.
In light of all of this, Left Flank’s article’s on anti-politics are worth a re-read. All manner of political forces are competing to re-incorporate a growing constituency of discontent with “politics as usual”. I see no reason that these efforts should be accommodated or supported. Also worth re-reading is London AFA’s Filling the Vacuum.
Getting back to Melbourne’s far-right, the TBC, UPF and other fascists have also recognized the opportunity that Hanson and Trump offer.
After some initial successes in 2015, these groups have recently been struggling to reach an audience outside their existing networks. A recent anti-refugee rally in Eltham was meant to drew between 70 and 100 people, with few participating from the community that was targeted.
The proposed Donald Trump celebration is already significantly more successful. The Facebook event records 1600 either interested or attending, and a review of the guest list indicates that the participants are not simply the usual fascist suspects.
The longer term challenge for anti-racists is to build an anti-racist movement capable of pushing back against the state and capital as well as specific racist manifestations. In the short term however, there is a fascist rally in Melbourne that needs to be opposed.