In the 21st century, contemporary Conservatism has surrendered to a virulent, dystopian and pathologically hyper-individualist state of mind and populist Right Wing ideology.
From the proclamations and intimations by Conservative politicians that the unemployed are poor because they lack drive. An Orwellian political vocabulary of 'job creators' and 'non-productive citizens'; opining that poor people have it relatively easy, thus we have a right and a duty to make their lives harder by forcing them out of their homes and on the road around the country to take whatever work is going in areas seeking unskilled labour to work for small reward or satisfaction, in back-breaking jobs, because it will be good for their souls, for wages barely above the Unemployment benefit they have been forced off. So has modern Conservatism transformed itself away from its traditional 'Liberal' roots supporting a Social Safety Net to a virtual enactment of the Protestant Work Ethic as policy?
The fact is, the Conservative political movement has intertwined itself with the Conservative Christian movement, to the extent that we have had a virtual takeover of one by the other and thus we should now really refer to them as Conservative Christian political parties. The secular nature of most Conservative political parties is fast evaporating in the heat of this hot and heavy takeover by the Religious Right, and thus they have started to manifest as policy stances many positions which only blind faith in religion encompasses.
It's up to the secular, Progressive side of politics to start calling them out as such, to point out the inconsistencies when their stated positions contradict the Christian principles they say they espouse, and the 'Faith-Based' policies that they are trying to insert into government and make the law of the land. Such that they are humiliated by their hypocrisy or they have to come out from behind the facade that they are not what they in fact are, as they try to foist themselves upon the electorate. So that the electorate sees them as the Devils in a Blue Tie that they are, as a result of the contradictory and unchristian principles they also espouse at one and the same time as they proclaim their angelic godliness.
It is because I have begun to wonder lately where the Christian Conservatism of Tony Abbott has taken his party-even further into territory originally colonised in the 'God Under Howard' era of politics we have only just recently slipped the bonds of, that I thought I would tackle this subject. Thus, as a natural extension of those thoughts, where would Tony Abbott's brand of Religious Right Conservatism take Australia and also what does that equate to in a philosophical sense?
Of course, there are links and parallels with the Religious Right in other countries, and most notably the Republican Party in the USA.
Even as a fervent believer in the Separation of Church and State, and as a secular atheist, I nevertheless feel that to ignore the presence of these people in our polity in the hope and belief that the strength of our arguments will prevail in the court of public opinion over the obvious weakness of the ideological world of Christian politics that they inhabit, as we see it from the outside, and while we keep our metaphorical fingers in our ears and our eyes screwed shut ignoring them, in an attempt to deny them any legitimacy, is foolish at worst and negligent at best.
So I'll attempt to explain it as I see it. Which does not make me right and them wrong, as they do what they do and believe in why they are doing and what the philosophical reasons that underpin their lives and their politics are, for reasons best known to them. I just think that we should seek to understand them before we make a decision about them at the ballot box.
Suffice to say I see them as a threat to good governance of this country, especially in their most extreme iterations. On the other hand, you might agree that in the guise of a Christian Moderate politician, such as Kevin Rudd, that these sort of politicians can be well-meaning and effective governors of our country. You could almost argue that is fair enough when combined with social democratic politics particularly. You might almost be able to call it the politics of the Good Samaritan.
However, I can also see that modern Conservative political parties have melded with Conservative Christian religious adherents and have become, almost, religions themselves to their followers.
Let me explain.
Traditional Conservatism, well that which came after Universal Suffrage and the Mercantilists and Landholders lost their grip on it and had been kicked to the curb by the Conservative movement's embrace of Small Businessmen and Women, has been governed by a basic tenet which stressed the importance of continuity and economic and social stability. Those who supported them did so, in the main because they knew what Conservatives stood for, as exemplified by Menzies 26 years in power in Australia, as opposed to Progressive political ideology and its supporters, who advocate social change and policy adventurism as the means to the end of improving society.
However, lately, you'd have to ask yourself whether the tables have turned and it has become the Conservatives that have become the radicals, advocating that society change away from what has become settled public policy, agreed upon by successive generations in the broad and by most democracies since the time of The Great Depression and World War 2. Basic tenets such as the Social Safety Net. A change typified by Ayn Rand Libertarian economic acolytes from Right Wing Think Tanks, such as The Institute for Public Affairs and The Centre for Independent Studies in Australia, and The Heritage Foundation, Americans For Prosperity, and The Cato Institute, and others too numerous to mention ('cause that's where all the tax dollars they dodge paying to government have gone), in the USA. Who appear to want to go back to the time before The Great Depression and The New Deal, when the Oligarchs ruled the roost, having learnt or not caring about, the history they are dooming us to painfully repeat, to live and die an early death by, all over again. And, if you have been listening to the Republican Party Debates to pick a Presidential contender, you will know what I mean by that.
These people, who are well educated, have discovered the means by which they can co-opt that class of people, and voters, who formerly voted for Social Democratic and Workers Parties.
This they have done by infiltrating religion back into the mainstream of people's lives, and the unquestioning obedience that goes hand-in-hand with that, and a Utopian ideal for them to subscribe to, which they can strive for, as members, not of the Ruling Class, that's for a very select few, but as members of the Aspirational Class.
However they are also the Kindermenschen to the Ubermenschen Conservative elites. Often Small Business Owners and Self-Funded Retirees, who have had some small degree of success in their lives, based on not much by way of an education which would enlighten them either.
These people are easily recognised as they wave misspelled signs at demonstrations, organised by the exploiters of their easily-aroused passions. These demonstrations need to be numerous to keep them on the boil, energised and angry; and their opposition, the Labor party, destabilised, demoralised and constantly antagonised.
This has the twin benefits of making it always seem as though Progressive governments, in whatever country, are doing something wrong and are incompetent, or else why would people be so agitated? Plus, it blocks the good news getting out about the good things the government is doing, and thus maybe seeping into people's consciences in place of the FUD. Aided and abetted by a conspiratorially compliant media it becomes an easy fait accompli
A bit like religion, really. Constant brainwashing becomes the basis of their reality. Such that you could almost make the case that modern 'backlash' Conservatism has become akin to a religious faith, so reliant is it now, not on provable realities but dogma and doggerel delivered by demi-godlike leaders of political parties deeply grounded in the tricks of the Preacher/Priest trade...Like ex-Seminarian, Tony Abbott. They have brought along fellow travellers who see themselves now as Conservative Christian Warriors for the political parties they follow...Like Anders Behring Breivik in Norway.
I'll just offer this quote from: 'Has American-Style Conservatism Become A Religion?
' to explain the concept:
'Ideology is grounded in the real world. It offers us a philosophical lens through which we can efficiently process what's happening in the world around us. Religion is different. It's a fixed belief system based on faith, and it is immune to-or at least highly resistant to-challenges mounted by objective reality.'
...Like the Manicheans-adherants of one of the world's great religions at one point in history-they tend to see a world, in stark relief, in black and white terms, defined by a conflict between the forces of light and darkness, good and bad.'
The forces of good are decent, conservative, 'real', Australian/Americans-mostly White, married, Christians, but with exceptions made for others who keep the faith.'
Anyway, every movement needs it's foot soldiers. And these people have slotted nicely into the role for the Conservatives as they launch their fight back to power.
They stand immovably opposed to a wide array of diabolical figures (and, don't forget, El Diablo is another name for you know who), such as 'liberals', gays, Muslims, 'Socialists', and, essentially, anyone who disagrees with them.
Like Climate Scientists.
Here is the most pure example of the cross-fertilisation between religion and politics. No one group has been so demonised recently, and as thoroughly as they have.
Look at how it works.
The Climate Scientists have produced an overwhelming body of scientific evidence to prove the existence of Anthropogenic Global Warming.
The Oligarchs who fund and provide direction for the latter-day Conservative movement are recalcitrants when it comes to agreeing to do anything about Global Warming and Climate Change, for to do so would have a negative effect on their bottom line and may cause some of their businesses to have to abandon least cost methods of production, and those who emit the most pollution in their businesses would have to pay a compensatory fee to do so.
So, they decide to fund the least cost method of push back. They fund a few scientists, well past the prime of their careers and suffering Attention Deficit Syndrome and a hole in their retirement savings, to carry out some ethically and scientifically-questionable research for them. They find holes in the research done by the reputable scientists, and attempt to poison the well of public goodwill towards the science.
The Oligarchs empower the politicians that they fund to put their message into the public domain. Many of these politicians are themselves Christian Conservatives, well practised in the art of proselytising, and who are pre-Copernican scientific sceptics, as an article of their Faith, and are antagonistic to any theory which flies in the face of Church doctrine.
Thus the virtuous circle is achieved. Christians + Capitalists, working hand-in-glove to defeat Science, by befuddling and brainwashing the uninformed masses.
Just like Religion does.
So, the next part of this story has to involve an exploration of what exactly will the modern Conservative Movement, infused with religious fervour and the fevered style of Holy Rollin' politics, which has been brought to the political stage, manifest as when it comes to policies on the ground?
We already know that Tony Abbott is vehemently opposed to 'The Morning After Pill', RU486. I have no doubt that he would bring that issue back to the floor of parliament, plus others, such as a Doctor's and Pharmacist's 'right' to choose whether they prescribe and dispense Birth Control for women, based upon their religious faith. Not to mention whether the State should fund Abortions through Medicare, or whether a woman will have to pay for one herself if she wants an abortion, which, as a matter of course makes it doubly-hard for poorer women, those most likely to need one for economic reasons, as well as the myriad of other reasons women have. Thus emasculating, and I use that word deliberately, a Woman's Right to Choose.
Not only that, but we are all well-aware of Tony Abbott's anachronistic belief that women are to be the home-makers, while men are to be the protectors and providers, and the god-given head of the household, who has the authority and the last word in the house. I find it no coincidence at all that Tony Abbott's wife, Margie, works with children. This is a clear reflection of the not-so-extreme end of the Christian Patriarchy Movement, which dictates that, if women are to have a job outside of the home, after child-rearing duties are complete. I mean it is entirely plausible that, even with his greater than average salary as a Member of Parliament, the reason that Tony Abbott is still paying off a Second Mortgage, is that his wife was not a member of the workforce until the children had grown up. The Second Mortgage being taken out to set her up in a Business that accords with his religious beliefs.
So, Nurse, Teacher and Child Care Provider are allowed because the traditional Christian Conservative male believes that women nurse, educate (if you take it to extremes and Home School), and care for the children, and raise them up to be evangelists for the faith and to produce more warriors for Christ, equipped to take back the culture from the godless 'liberals', and restore it to it's Christian foundations.
If all this sounds too extraordinary and extreme a fact to contemplate, let's just reflect on who Tony Abbott's Right Hand man in parliament is. Cory Bernardi-a self-professed Christian Soldier.
What do you think?