Post materialism liberal enviro elitism

That’s how a Labor partisan on Twitter described my criticism in Independent Australia of Labor’s strategy of avoiding any policy difference with the Morrison government, and shutting down all discussion of the climate catastrophe until they get around to announcing a policy for the 2022 election. The one exception I noted (and the one that incited this response) was support for the coal industry. As I noted

Rather than offer a climate policy in response to the catastrophic bushfires of the last summer, Labor took the view that ‘the immediate focus should be on firefighters battling the blazes, people at risk and those grieving lost loved ones’. While scoring points on scandals like the sports rorts and cynically exploiting of divisions within the Government, Labor has put forward hardly a word of criticism of the Morrison Government’s policy position, let alone any alternative.

There have, however, been a couple of exceptions to this pattern of near-invisibility. First, Labor has made it clear that coal mining is here to stay and that the future of coal-fired power will be left to “the market”. Second, while displaying intense solicitude for those voters who switched their support to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Labor has engaged in co-ordinated and ferocious attacks on the Greens.

My article mainly focuses on the point that Labor can’t assume that it will have a reliable majority in Parliament, and therefore shouldn’t engage in partisan warfare with Greens and independents with whom deals will need to be made in future. But I’d like to discuss the whole “wait until 2022” thing a bit more.

No one expects an Opposition party to have a detailed election program at all times, and it’s unsurprising that Labor would want to reconsider some issues in the light of the 2019 loss. But I’ve never seen anything like the argument coming out of the Labor party that, since they aren’t in government, they shouldn’t be expected to have policies on anything, and shouldn’t vote against regressive and disastrous government policies. Even more striking is the corollary that the only decent thing to do about the climate disaster is to sit quietly and then vote for whatever policy Labor comes up with in two years time.

Maybe I was spoiled by several years in which that notoriously post materialist liberal enviro elitist, Bill Shorten, actually proposed policy, but I can’t remember any Opposition, from either side of politics, being as lame as this one. It’s fortunate, perhaps, the Morrison government is so incoherent and incompetent that it effectively functions as its own opposition.

9 thoughts on “Post materialism liberal enviro elitism

  1. That jibe is self-contradictory. Anyone who is concerned about the environment is not post-materialist at all. The environment and biosphere are material systems. Even all the life forms are material bodies and make up material complex systems. The POST-materialists are those who think that it is possible to have endless quantitative growth of the material population and economic spheres on a finite earth.

    “Enviro-elitism” is NOT what environmentalists practice. Their goal is to keep the environmental commons healthy and supportive for all people and many animals and plants. It is the capitalist elitists and their propagandists who are enviro-elitist. Their policies will trash the global commons while keeping elite enclaves and gated communities closer to pristine for the wealthy elite. their functionaries and sycophants. As for “liberal”, how is that an insult unless you are in favor of suppression and oppression of everyone but the elite?

    The right is reduced to nonsensical insults because all their arguments have collapsed, having being refuted by scientific investigations of empirical reality. The current dominant economic system (corporate and crony capitalism) is now in conflict with the physical and ecological realities of this planet. People who have lost the material, objective argument resort to insults. Insults are, or can be, a rehearsal and preparation for violence. I expect the far right (the one that has lost contact with material and humane reality) to soon enough begin resorting to reactionary violence unless the great mass of ordinary, reasonable people, with the anger of patient, silent majority pushed too far, make it very clear that any violence by the tiny reactionary right elite will redound upon them tenfold. In this case, the reactionary right will rapidly cave in. Bullies are always cowards in the end.

  2. While we have compulsory preferential voting Labor can enjoy the luxury of treating the Greens with contempt, knowing full well it will continue gain the bulk of Green preferences because the alternative is worse. In light of the formation of the Otis group within federal Labor one now has to ask, how much worse ? Neither I or anybody should be forced to vote for a party whose policies we object to. It is long overdue we had a debate about introducing optional preferential voting. Until this happens Labor can continue on its present course with little consequence. If one shifts view to the right of the political spectrum, there are many One Nation, Katter, and Palmer voters who would not allocate preferences if not compelled to. Pox on both their houses they would say. For this reason had optional preferential voting been in place at last year’s federal poll the result may well have been different.

  3. “Labor can’t assume that it will have a reliable majority in Parliament, and therefore shouldn’t engage in partisan warfare with Greens and independents with whom deals will need to be made in future.”

    Oh I shouldn’t worry about that – politicians of all stripes have an amazing abilty to act as deadly enemies in one moment and then in the next be BFF. If it suits them they can turn that partisan warfare on and off like a tap.

    The hard truth is that climate policy is even worse a wedge for Labor than the Coalition. A strong climate policy would be popular with a majority of caucus, of members, and of the electorate, but would leave an angry minority of each – and each of those minorities are situated where they can cause pain. RM is right that preferential voting means that, unlike with disastrous UK Labour and Brexit, equivocation is the best strategy to deal with this wedge; Green voters have nowhere else to go for second preferences.

  4. There’s nothing stopping environmentally focussed voters from preferencing the ALP one step above the liberals, but below everyone including One Nation. It’s been a long time since I even thought about the utility of putting ALP first. For that matter, some years I don’t even donate to them.

    Ikon, the jibe is possibly meant to be reflective of ALP policy and practice… incoherent, contradictory and fundamentally self-defeating. It’s almost as though they have seen what Labour accomplished in the UK in bringing the LibDems back from the grave, and have decided that such a half-hearted effort isn’t enough, they *will* make The Greens the second largest party in Australia. We just have to hope the “I won’t vote for climate catastrophe” sentiment hardens on the way to the next election rather than dissolving back into the murk.

  5. The Greens have treated Labor with contempt for a long while; I am surprised they don’t expect the favor to be returned.

  6. It will be very easy for long term labor voters in the inner city (e.g. me) to pref greens first to force labor into a coalition with the greens. Is even Albanese safe from that sort of backlash. We shall see.

  7. The old blog header had a nice little section of testimonials. “Post materialist liberal enviro elitist” would have fitted in just fine.

  8. If Labor do not appear serious about climate then for a lot of people there is not much point putting them ahead of the LNP for climate’s sake. The Greens do not appear to offer a credible alternative government and little support flows to them from LibNatLab turning aside from the issue. The appearance of all climate policy being pointless is a potent de-motivator that is used widely to great effect. Just shifting the issue’s priority down a peg or two – even temporarily if the timing is right – nullifies what appears to be a solid majority who think the issue is serious.

    Gratuitous blaming of The Greens (or Environmentalists more generally) may be the one true point of tripartisan agreement amongst the LibNatLab owned politics of Australia and is hardly a new development for Labor; that they appear to want to regurgitate blaming them for Rudd’s misjudgements now and pass right over the successes of Gillard just indicates a renewed effort to reject any appearance of agreeing with The Greens on anything. Yet I thought the claim that the past election result was all because of equivocation on coal – and Bob Brown’s convoy – was NewsCorp invention. That Labor seemed so keen to take it as true, rather than dispute it, is a sign of preferring scapegoats to accepting responsibility for their own misjudgements – and fear of NewCorp.

    Environmentalism only got their unimpeded access to the climate issue podium because mainstream politics vacated it and invited them to take the issue up on a “you care so much, you fix it” basis, with a strong “give ’em enough rope” subtext. Raising them up in order to tear them down. That failure to take up the issue themselves and to frame the issue as entirely by, because and about irresponsible green politics was and is a profound abrogation of responsibility by the LibNatLab majority.

  9. I wonder if there’s a space for a “hard right labour” party who are right up front that they will burn the country to the ground to keep even a single coal miner shuffling bits of paper in an office in Chatswood. We already have the faction, the question is whether they’d find voters if they went all in on the materialistic authoritarian destructive populism. In a way it would be hilarious if they ended up talking seats off the LibNatLibnatCount Party as well as the ALP. More likely they would fail to get traction with the Murdochcracy and would discover that their primary (only?) value is as destructive agents *within* the ALP.

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