Gaslighting a nation

My political heart is raging.  Scott Morrison, during an interview on 2GB has said:

“I know Australians understand this and they’ll be pleased I’m coming back, I’m sure, but they know I don’t hold a hose, I don’t sit in a control room.”

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Tweet: Our PM just did a classic non-apology – gaslighting all of us: “I know Australians understand this and they’ll be pleased I’m coming back, I’m sure, but they know I don’t hold a hose, I don’t sit in a control room.” MATE! YOU’RE THE PM: YOU ARE THE CONTROL ROOM. #sydneyfires

I was enraged and took to Twitter, my go to place for the airing of political grievances.

Democracy is about, at the root of it, debate of ideas.  It is not about deflection, denial and gaslighting as I see Australian politics has become in the last 20 years.

I think my twitter rage today sums up how I have felt about Australian Democracy since John Howard declared martial law and I watched Australian troops misused to descend on remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia.

I’ve said my piece at rallies and I fought hard to raise awareness to see the end of Howard’s similarly hate-filled protégé Tony Abbott’s reign.  And yet, here we are Australia, with a gaslighting goon for the fossil fuel industry in charge again.

This is not a regular fire season.  The PM himself has used the language “mega fire” (which is climate change language) to describe fires, yet consistently dodges declaring a climate emergency.  He has dismissed concerns about funding of volunteers by saying “they want to be there”.  He does little to address the fact that volunteers are dying as a result of underfunding and large scale funding cuts at all levels of government.

The current government uses techniques that are both propaganda and gaslighting 101.  Gaslighting is a psychological abuse technique that leaves you questioning or second guessing your own sanity.  Propaganda is similar but tends to be more conscious manipulation of constituents.

Scott Morrison is exceptional at single statement, misleading testimonials aimed to leverage his social rank to get people to nod in agreement.  Like when he totally dismissed a comparison of climate change policy ranking Australia last as “It’s not credible”, but refused to elaborate.  I know I am a nerd, but I am always surprised how many Australians just believe him on that and won’t seek the source documents he dismisses.

On the 9th of September 2005, an article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald about the death of Donald Horne, who wrote the book “The Lucky Country”.

Forever misquoted, Donald Horne dies” was the title. The authors, John Huxley and Samantha Selinger-Morris, cite him as saying:

“I was about to write the last chapter of a book on Australia,” recalled Horne, who died aged 83. “The opening sentence was, ‘Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck.”‘

They go onto to say that his 1964 book “The Lucky Country” which coined the oft used phrase in Australian politics was:
“…meant as an indictment of an unimaginative nation, its cosy provincialism, its cultural cringe and its White Australia policy.  But much to Horne’s subsequent misery, many failed to detect his irony and many more, either willfully or lazily, misinterpreted his words.”

The Australian habit of popularising an otherwise critical perspective on its nationhood like that of “The Lucky Country” is well entrenched in white Australia.  It is often twisted to suit a misguided sense of national pride not limited to just the misuse of Donald Horne’s social commentary.   Most recently the bogan-wannabe-but-really-spoiled-private-school-boy at the helm of Australia’s government is a perfect example of the ignorance of a culture of lucky country lies.

“She’ll be right”.  “Don’t talk about politics and religion”.  All the privileged banter our culture hides under and very soon, will not be able to hide under anymore.  Folks, climate change is real and it’s going to get worse.  The Australian white picket fence is burning down, it’s time to care. No amount of belief in trickle down economics will prevent that.

I almost wrote in that tweet that parliament was the control room, but parliament is sitting less and less under the political turmoil of the last two decades. If you are unsure I suggest you go and take a look for yourself.

sittings

This year Scott Morrisons government has sat for only 40 days, and last year between him and Malcolm Turnbull there was only 26 days.  The impact on leadership spills on sittings is quite clear.

Our current PM and his crew of neo-fascists employ a blend of techniques to avoid doing anything other than push-pull ideology, propaganda and gaslighting instead of democratic debate.

It’s the old school shite and that shit-awful “lucky country” narrative.

Scott Morrison blithely sums this up with his litanies of “How good is <insert mindless cause and effect association here>” generalisations and gross distortions.

Some of us in Australia are furious.  We want debate on the floor of parliament, not sex and fraud scandals, fabrication and well crafted bullshit – but actual, meaningful, evidence based, debate.