…followed by the inevitable step to the right.
Am I the only one here to notice that electoral political sentiment has a certain uniformity across the Anglosphere? Centre-left and centre-right administrations tend to follow each other in the UK, the USA, New Zealand and Australia. Of course, it’s not a perfect match, and in the last twenty-something years the two sides of politics have to some extent converged, in a silly and rather pathetic contest for the electoral “middle ground”, so (for example), Bob Hawke’s Australian Labor government in the 1980s gave logistical support to the Reagan administration’s Star Wars program. And Tony Blair’s “New Labour” was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Republican administration of George W. Bush, and stay the course in… er, in whatever course it was they stayed back then. I hope it proved worthwhile.
You all know how I feel about the left-right divide. I regard it as a fiction. However, in the interests of intelligibility, I wrote back here that
…Libertarianism promotes both economic and personal freedom. On some issues they take positions generally associated with the political right (gun control, anti-smoking legislation, free-market), while on other issues (drug prohibition, gay rights) they take positions regarded as left-wing. What defines these positions as Libertarian is that they leave choice to the individual, at the expense of interference by the state.
I’d like to take that back, and turn it inside-out. Because the real divide is not between left and right, it is between Libertarianism and totalitarianism, or authoritarianism. So on some issues (drug prohibition, gay rights), left-wingers take Libertarian positions, whereas on other issues (gun control, anti-smoking legislation, free-market) they are authoritarians. And vice versa for right-wingers.
So why do electorates jump from centre-left to centre-right administrations? And do so across borders, often at roughly the same time? I’m not an expert on political or psychological zeitgeist, but it would seem to me that, aside from local issues which can over-ride this, people grow weary of certain types of authoritarian control, and long for greater liberty in those areas. I somehow doubt the Obama administration in the USA, or the Rudd administration in Australia, were elected by voters seeking greater economic freedom! Or that simpering jackass you’ve got in Britain at the moment. I don’t care if he was GE’s classmate: the man’s a backpfeifengesicht.
Well, right now, the electorates are stepping to the right. We all saw what happened in November at the US mid-term elections. Britain and Australia did the same, albeit in a timid, half-hearted way that left both parliaments hung, and ruled by back-room deals instead of open debate on the Floor. Tomorrow night, my time, the New South Wales Labor state government, incumbent for the last sixteen years, is set to be thrown out in what polls predict will be the biggest landslide in that jurisdiction in 110 years. Federally in Australia, polls (all bar one) show a large swing to the right, and Labor’s core left-wing constituency moving to the far-left Greens. Labor will be lucky to poll 33% in its primary vote, meaning that unless something very strange occurs in the next two years, it is finished as a viable alternative government in its own right.
Feel free to disagree, or share your perceptions of how this applies in your own country. Is the electorate shifting, for want of a better description, left or right? And when, if ever, will it do a 90-degree turn and finally shift free?
Oh, and if you feel like dancing—click the picture at the top, and crank up the volume.
Here is a comment from NBR (National Business Review) yesterday in N.Z. The view expressed is one that is heard more frequently here:
“Time for a new party I think, one with forethought, respect for NZ people of all creeds and walks of life, Business sense, Pride in our country, Passion for the Job and lastly leadership for overall accountability
Someone with the vision of future to create jobs, prosperity and financial stability for our nation.
To use the strengths of our nation if the dairy industry is proving a point providing the world with quality product it is now time for other industries to monopolise themselves and work together to capitalise on the current situation of the shortage of food worldwide.
Nuclear disaster in Japan other countries have banned their product what have we done nothing we should be capitalising by supplying clean green food fresh fruit and meat…at a cost of course…
All we need is a catalyst and for like minded people to get together and stand up. The time for a new party is now.. Not a party all about the balance sheets.. Not a party for socialist pap… Not a green party who would have us all walk to work.. not a religious party who would have us pray 9 hours a day…. And just not Winston or Anderton who by the last three letters of their names have weighed this country down enough…
New Zealand is a better place than we give credit to… So lets toss out the old and get in the mentally stable… Good bye Goff and Key no longer do we need old men with little lead in their pencils…
If as a politician you can not live up to the above its time to step up or to stand aside for a New Zealand of the future… Strong, Powerful, and free” The Aotearoa Freedom Party? – Oz
And this comment from the same paper:
The Labour Party(Left) is typified by takers…..they send their leeches into our universities to warp and pollute the minds of young bright Kiwis with their entitlement and socialist ideas; they ensure that gov’t. depts. are filled with their secret spies, tapping into emails etc.; making it impossible for any non-labour government to work in confidence; and even worse, their teachers union, ensuring that their sisterhood can ply their trade without comparison or real bench-marking.
BTW, the Black Caps are now this hemisphere’s last hope in the World Cup. A small thing in the broad scheme, but it could be just the tonic NZ needs right now – Oz
What NBR seems to be wishing for in that quote, matches pretty well with what Hayek warned about in “Road to Serfdom”.
It’s a tune that Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, Hoover, FDR, Benito Mussolini, progressives et al, would all have got up to dance to (well, perhaps FDR wasn’t the most capable of dancers – but check out Prof Anderssen’s performance from a wheel chair, in the Rocky Horror Picture Show).
Coming back to Oz’ post, Churchill in particular is regarded as a beast of the “Right”, and to the followers of the one true church of Marx, so to is the son of the Marxist village blacksmith, and himself life long Marxist and correspondent with Vlad Lenin and Leon Trotsky – Il Duce (that title “The Leader” was earned before WWI shattered the chances for an internationalist Marxism, when he was “leader” of one bunch of Italian Marxists).
Mussolini was also a long term correspondent with FDR, who apparently along with the Hollywood elite of the day, were big fans of Mussolini and his “Social Experiment”.
Oz, you are striking sparks off a rock I’ve been mentally hammering at for a long time.
The seating plan of the pre revolution French parliament is pretty meaningless for us:
the party of the royal court
the party of merchants,
both were parties of self interest via the powers of the state and at the expense of individuals.
Sorry, lost my thread, one of the missus’ cats just sent £600 worth of book flying.
Hazlitt’s, “The Failure of the New Economics”, a line by line refutation of Keynes’ unified theory from an Austrian perspective is available as a free download .pdf, from mises.org,
Same for Murray Rothbard’s “America’s Great Depression”
Great thing about the Austrians, clear writing and no maths!
Look forward to it Ian…
Meanwhile, for your listening pleasure – the first Austrian in space:
Well considering the musical choice and politics I find it most appropriate as I’m sure we have more than our fair share of leaders male and female assuming some very gender bending roles.
Politics has shifted too far to the left and no amount of voting will solve it, it’s time for tumbrels, pitchforks, torches and the hemp fandango for the lot of them.
Very well, mein katzenführer – just for you…
It seems that what you need to unite public sentiment behind the necessary wielding of the knife is a decent expensive national disaster. The Christchurch earthquake seems to have done the job for N.Z. The government can now slash and burn the previous Labour expansion of the public service, and at the same time attack the numerous benefit that were introduced to keep the populace re-electing the same arseholes. All because we were already broke and now an earthquake has completely screwed government finances for years to come. Throw in a couple of gay Labour MP scandals , and the jobs done; no chance that Labour will occupy the government benches until the purge of the “rainbow ” element is completed. The public has had enough; the UN can have former PM Helen Clark.
Interesting point about a captive welfare constituency; I made the same point way back here. The same thing has happened in yesterday’s NSW state elections (Labor was flattened) in which many areas of western Sydney voted against Labor for the first time in a century. Both governments (NZ and NSW) took their constituencies for one-dimensional fools. Well, more fool them – Oz
re. the captive welfare constituency; I was brought up on the oft -repeated story of my grandfather Leamy coming home irate from a depression -era political meeting at which the Labour member was promoting the slogan to the unemployed and distressed:- ” we’ll look after you Jack”. Apparently my grandfather, who had fought in France and survived WW1 remained in a rage for weeks at what he saw as blatant exploitation of the pitiable conditions that many had been reduced to by the Depression.
God knows what he would think of the Working for Families policy, recently introduced by a desperate Labour, which made much of middle N.Z. into beneficiaries. It looks now like we cannot afford it, and dismantling will not be popular, except , we can blame the earthquake. Neat!
The Kiwis pretty much wrote the book on how to do this, with their reform government, back in the mid 1980s.
There’s the text to an interesting talk by a former Kiwi minister, Maurice McTigue , about those times, here;
Can’t remember whether it’s Borepatch or John Lott who’s due the tip a’ the hat for that link, so one to each of them.
It’s surprising how short a time it takes for a socialist government to run up a deficit of the same number of years GDP that the second world war cost, and yet have absolutely nothing to show for it.
Are memories so short, that people were seduced by promises from the left (It’s true that the various “conservatives” had run out of steam and become perceived as too corrupt, but outside Kiwi land, those “Conservatives” all increased the size and penetration of the state, Thatcher included. they just did it more slowly.
If we had the brass neck and lack of conscience to be able to lie like socialists, I guess we could spin the story that all of these state sector folks who must receive redundancy, are the brightest and the best, who’ve been working on such relevant matters, which all others were neglecting and running the economy so well, that businesses will be really lucky to get one to work for them… (True in parts 😉 ).
The welfare recipients are a bigger problem, poor guys are addicted to it. too many “industries” to.
Some people are passionate about certain issues (e.g. “climate change”, abortion, gun rights [not control], gay marriage [not gay rights], immigration, smoking, drugs, etc.). These are largely peripheral issues in the voting booth. The “jump to the left” is spurned on by government dependency. In the US this is a function of our bloated entitlement structure. I recently heard that over 50% of the US population receives some form of government entitlement – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food stamps (SNAP), federally subsidized housing, unemployment benefits, welfare, WIC benefits, federally subsidized daycare (Head Start), veterans benefits, etc. The more one “depends” on these handouts the more important they become to them as a voter. For instance, a retired 69 year old voter doesn’t care much about abortion at the polling place if he has been convinced that the Republicans are planning to end the Social Security benefits he contributed to his entire working career and only the Democrats can stop them. He may be vehemently opposed to abortion which the Democrats favor. What he cares about are HIS benefits. This isn’t hyperbole, this is actual Democrat campaign strategy.
Dependency buys voters for the left. Outrage buys voters for the right. My late father was very conservative most of his life. I remember him bitching about Social Security when I was a kid. It drove him nuts that my maternal grandparents were reaping far more from SS than they ever paid in. He used to say “we’re just living high on the hog in retirement on the backs of our children”. He expressed such sentiments right up until a couple years after he started receiving SS benefits. That’s when I noticed a transformation. He became dependent on those SS benefits and it became more pronounced as he grew older and had essentially outlived the money he had saved for retirement. He became decidedly liberal (and voted that way, too). Almost anyone who suckles at the government teat will vote to protect their right to live off the labor of others. In this country the Democrats figured this out over 75 years ago. They enhanced it with Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 and have doubled down on it with ObamaCare in 2009. Unless repealed and/or reformed these programs will drive this country into bankruptcy within two decades.
The median age in the US is about 36. Over half the population is under 40. Of course you can’t vote until you’re 18 (it should be 21 or even 25 in my view) so that places most of the electoral clout in the hands of us old geezers (those older than 40). Where is the outrage from younger workers? They don’t see that they’re getting screwed. To them issues like “the environment”, abortion rights and “social justice” matter on election day. Only when you see enough of the private sector (i.e. contributing wealth to society) become enraged and view the unions and entitlement class as the parasites they are do you see a “step to the right”.
Bernie Madoff was a popular bloke while he was paying what looked like good “returns”. The outrage comes later.
I was trying to think my way around this the other day, almost all interests are “minority” so all are easy enough to pick off one at a time, alcohol, tobacco, fire…
I can just kick myself for missing the obvious – RACE. 96% of black voters voted for Obama last time…because he was black. This is about the dumbest reason to vote for anybody – because the color of the candidate’s skin is the same as your own. Even still, a lot of conservative blacks voted for Obama in 2008.
That was their heart getting in the way of their head, Dave. They won’t fall for it twice – Oz
Hi Dr Dave,
I’m not in tune with “black thinking” (as if the colour of an individuals skin ever affected the workings of their brain in a collectivist fashion) in the US, but an increasing number must be questioning why they voted for him in particular. I don’t think he ever uttered a single policy during his campaign, he just didn’t seem to contradict a single hopey changey thing which was projected onto him, unicorns, rainbows farts that smell of roses, the lot.
I still have the occasional chuckle over Jesse Jackson getting taped before Obama got in, saying he needed his balls cutting off.
Imagine if someone of a different hue had got caught saying that?
I’m no fan of the Bush dynasty and its neo-con statism, but the 0 makes them look good in comparison – that really takes some doing.
Getting back to the Rev Jackson, he was in Ireland a few weeks back, and I heard him interviewed on the radio. He was advocating “economic democracy” which I could go for, but probably in exactly the opposite sense that he meant it.
I’d like everyone to be able to choose where every penny of the money they earn gets spent, each and every day.
I’m guessing that the Rev meant it more along the lines of “Come over my place for a mess of pottage…”
I’d like to think so but I’m willing to bet that if Obama runs again in 2012 (as seems likely) he will garner at least 90% of the black vote and over 50% of the Hispanic vote. Racism is alive and well in the US but it doesn’t manifest itself as prominently where the MSM would like to direct your attention. Anti-white racism is rampant in our black and Hispanic communities. A little less so in the Hispanic communities. Race baiting and promulgating a notion of an “oppressed” class has become a big business in the US. It buys political clout and makes a few very wealthy.
It breaks my heart to see decades of progress virtually erased in the space of a single presidential term. The race card is a potent weapon for the Left. Any criticism of Obama is met with cries of racism. Whatever isn’t George Bush’s fault is racism despite the fact that white America elected a black President and Bush has been out of office for over 2 years.
The Left in this country are largely elected by large voting blocs. They score most of the union votes, most of the minority votes, their base of committed leftists and if they lie well enough and scare the older folks, the senior vote. When it comes down to it most folks don’t cast their votes consistent with their beliefs, they cast them in their own self-interest.
You’d know better than me Dave, and I suspect it’s the hip pocket more than what coat of paint God’s given you. And it’s not as if there’s a shortage of talented black candidates on the right, either. Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice 2012 (in any order)? That’d shake ’em up – Oz 👿
Interesting comparison here between historical electoral swings to the right in the Anglosphere.
This article in today’s American Thinker is too good not to share:
Dr. Dave at 6:02: Interested in your comments, thanks.
On-topic (sort of), GE’s mightiest commenter, Tayles, posted this gem which has already been cut and pasted elsewhere. I’m pasting it here, as its eloquence speaks for itself. If you’re reading this Tayles, hope that’s OK mate, let me know otherwise:
There is an aspect of modern socialism that represents the single greatest factor behind the disintegration of social values in this country, which is rarely touched upon by its critics. Namely, that it is fundamentally an exercise in egotism.
Socialist values tell us that everyone has a right to a certain level of treatment in life, irrespective of how they conduct themselves. You have a right to other people’s money, even if you offer nothing to them in return. You are entitled to towering self-esteem, regardless of how you behave. You have a right to be shielded from criticism, no matter what you say. You have a right to expect that life will be tailored to your every whim, regardless of how you act and irrespective of the competing interests of others.
There is so much talk of equality nowadays that these rights are widely seen as immutable. There is no place for gratitude, kindness or give-and-take in this arrangement, only resentment when we don’t get what we consider ours by right. The more a government pursues a policy of wealth redistribution, either in the form of the welfare state or through state-funded enterprises, the more we are inclined to believe that such action is necessary to compensate for society’s injustice. We are left to conclude that those who have what we lack acquired it unfairly and are deserving of our envy and contempt.
It doesn’t take much imagination to work out what this mindset does for people’s morale. Why bother striving for anything when it should be served to us on a plate? Why bother being courteous or generous when we expect fair treatment irrespective of our own conduct or other people’s feelings? Why bother learning anything when we are encouraged to believe we are perfect as we are? Why regard other people’s achievements with admiration when we believe their success was achieved at the expense of those less fortunate?
Once we look towards some higher authority to dispense justice and favours, we stop thinking of ourselves as autonomous beings. We start to regard ourselves as being incapable of shifting for ourselves without the benign intervention of various officials and experts. This leads to a critical loss of fortitude and a sense that our fundamental condition is one of vulnerability.
Combined with our inflamed self-regard, this makes us impossibly precious. We look upon others, not as people with whom we much reach happy accommodations, but as a threat to our safety and our entitlements. The world around becomes filled with sinister threats and ominous strangers. Since we no longer feel the need to compromise any part of ourselves for the interests of others, we become atomised from the people around us, and demand that the authorities intervene when they do anything that displeases us. Ideas like patriotism, shared moral codes and common goals become a hideous affront to our egos and even a threat to our welfare. As for the future, this is no longer a time of hope and progress but a dark place of apocalyptic visions.
If you want to know why we are producing a nation of conceited, ignorant ingrates, why people smash shop fronts and urinate on monuments, why they squeal when their non-jobs are scrapped, why they bleat when someone offends their fragile sensibilities, why they demand more regulation, less freedom and higher taxes, then look no further than this poisonous ideology.
We might live in an ostensibly free market society, but culturally we are more socialist than we’ve ever been. It permeates our schools, our public sector, our government, our media and, consequently, our nation psyche. Never mind the economic illiteracy of socialism, which barely needs documenting, its effects on the character of anyone who lives under it are profound and destructive.
Now compare this ideology with its opposite – capitalism – which we are told is all about selfishness and greed. The fundamental basis of the free market is that you receive nothing in life unless you give people something they want in return. In other words, no matter how greedy, inconsiderate, or ill-intentioned you are, the marketplace forces you to consider the interests of others if you are to succeed. Surely any idiot can see that this is a better recipe for good conduct and self-improvement than one which tells us that nothing we do is wrong and everything in life is ours by right? I hope people wake up to this fact before it’s too late.
Oz’ Thank you for posting this, I hadn’t seen it elsewhere.
Tayles – An incisive post that gets to the heart of what’s wrong with the current mindset, and its causes. Thank you for clarifying things I’d already felt.