Editor's Column

Fertile Grounds for Revolt

The Dutch Manure Mountain in all its steaming glory is the perfect metaphor for the centrally planned lunacy of EU climate policy. Soviet-style gluts have long been a feature of Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy but, at least in the old days, the misdirected financial incentives produced wine lakes and butter mountains which exuded the allure of a cornucopia. 

You might think that the sensible thing to do with manure would be to use it to enrich the soil in the time-honoured tradition of Dutch farmers that made the country one of the world’s leading agricultural producers and exporters. The diktat of Europe’s elite however is that the manure has to be destroyed because of its high concentration of nitrogen (which contributes to greenhouse gases and acid rain) and its potential to leach into waterways. The EU is already issuing stiff fines and sanctions to those who fail to comply.

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The centre-right coalition led by Mark Rutte wanted to “solve” the nitrogen problem by getting rid of even more of the nation’s farms. Dutch farmers were not impressed. So while the mountain of manure hasn’t been able to fertilise Dutch farms it has driven the rapid growth of a farmers’ revolt (above). 

The collapse of Rutte’s government last year was brought about by the large number of asylum seekers accepted into the Netherlands. Both issues contributed to Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom (PVV) winning by far the largest number of seats (thirty-seven seats out of 150) in the Dutch parliament. 

The success of Wilders, dubbed “the most dangerous man in Europe”, sent shockwaves through the EU. Its progressive elite is petrified at the prospect of “dangerous” populists making further electoral inroads in the European Union parliamentary elections in June. 

It was this moral panic that inspired Quadrant  and the Danube Institute, a leading centre-right think-tank based in Budapest, to hold a public debate probing the nature of The Populist Moment at a sold-out event in Sydney in April. If you weren’t able to join us, you can watch it on our website or at the website of our digital partner, ADH.TV

As David Martin Jones said at the debate and in his article in this month’s issue, the term populism, coined by Richard Hofstadter, was always pejorative and deliberately so. Hofstadter used it to label what he saw as the post-McCarthy right-wing politics of paranoia. Together with thinkers such as Theodor Adorno, he located populism somewhere on an “F scale” where F stands for fascism, which is concealed everywhere, “especially in the false consciousness of post-war, Western, liberal, consumer capitalism”. 

The demonisation of consumer capitalism is a constant in the progressive narrative and while Marxism, communism and socialism are presented as acceptable, “populism” is smeared as a protean, shape-shifting form of fascism. For an example of this one only has to look at the odious way former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating praises China, as Maurice Newman writes this month, glossing over its horrific human rights abuses and saving his venom and contempt for the United States.

Educated, left-wing elites have branded as populist, and therefore as crypto-fascist, any idea or social movement that rejects their globalist, woke narrative. For example, Germany’s AfD is presented as dangerously racist or anti-immigrant, largely because it opposes uncontrolled illegal immigration or rates of legal immigration that are so high that they put enormous pressure on the social services, wages and house prices of Western democracies.

Progressives then denounce populism as a “threat” to democracy, but as former Prime Minister and Chairman of Quadrant Tony Abbott writes in his piece on populism this month, “If it’s the elected populists that worry you, isn’t that mistrusting democracy itself?” which, as he says, “we should never do”. 

In reality, Europe’s progressive elite so mistrusts democracy that since January German Social Democrats have been debating whether to ban the AfD, which is supported by around 25 per cent of voters. Banning democratically elected parties to save democracy is just the sort of political oxymoron that is in vogue with Europe’s authoritarian elite.

This then justifies calls from the Left to “quarantine” populism by erecting a “cordon sanitaire” against extremism. They have been so successful in this task that, as Istvan Kiss, the executive director of the Danube Institute, said in our public debate, centre-right parties are refusing to enter into coalitions with populist parties. In the Netherlands, Wilders has struggled for months to form a coalition with centre-right parties. In Portugal, centre-right parties preferred to enter a coalition with socialists rather than work with Chega, the populist party on the right with the third-largest number of seats in the Portuguese parliament. In Spain, the socialists preferred to work with separatist Catalans indicted for crimes against the country’s constitution rather than enter into a coalition with populists.

IN THE FACE of all this, why have centre-right parties so lost their way? As Lord Frost in an article in this issue points out, based on a speech he recently gave at the Danube Institute, what has gone wrong with the Conservative party in the UK is that they have uncritically adopted the policies of the progressive elite. It is these policies, such as achieving net zero emissions by 2050, which has net zero chance of achieving its goal but, along the way, will cause widespread poverty and social dislocation. 

As Tony Abbott puts it, it is not climate change that’s threatening to make normal life impossible, it is the policy to deal with it. This point is driven home in a very polished documentary by Martin Durkin that was released in March called Climate the Movie—The Cold Truth which, of course, you cannot watch in mainstream cinemas or on mainstream television channels but is available on YouTube at the time of writing this editorial. 

The film features interviews with eminent scientists such as Professor Steven Koonin (Undersecretary for Science in the Obama administration), Professor Richard Lindzen (a former professor of meteorology at Harvard and MIT), Professor Will Happer (professor of physics at Princeton), and Dr John Clauser (Nobel laureate in physics in 2022). Scientists such as these who have risen to the apex of their fields should be listened to with respect. Instead, like anyone that goes against the progressive agenda, they have, as they explain in the film, been cancelled.

What is fascinating in Lord Frost’s analysis is that he pinpoints that the wholehearted abandonment of Conservative principles and policies that has been undertaken in the wake of Boris Johnson’s dramatic win in 2019, his “Red Wall” victory, was based on the mistaken belief that the people that voted Tory at that election weren’t really conservative and therefore, to retain their support, the government needed to adopt leftist policies. This monumental misapprehension is what he calls the Red Wall Fallacy. 

In reality, Red Wall voters are the same people, in the same electorates, who put Mrs Thatcher in power and kept her there. Indeed, as Lord Frost points out, as far back as the mid-nineteenth century, Conservatives have only won government when they have won the support of these voters by promising conservative policies.

Unfortunately, as he concludes, the Conservative party has failed to deliver on its conservative promise, particularly in the critical area of controlling immigration and the related issue of delivering policies that help the young in the related area of housing. 

Reversing the big-state, centrally-planned de-growth policies of the Left is not for the faint-hearted. What is required is Churchillian courage to tell people the truth; that what is needed is far less state involvement in the economy, and a huge improvement in state effectiveness in controlling borders, funding defence, policing streets, defeating extremists, standing up for the nation and its history, and pushing back against postmodern woke ideas infesting public institutions. 

As Tony Abbott contemplates the challenges facing centre-right parties in Australia he concludes that Australians will vote for a party that is “passionate for freedom, passionate for small business and the family, and passionate above all for our country—as long as they can find one”. 

13 thoughts on “Fertile Grounds for Revolt

  • David Isaac says:

    Thank you for this reasonable article. The Centre-Right has lost its way because it now entertains fringe leftist policies. In the early 1960s the great centrist Sir Robert Menzies was for a white Christian, majority Anglo-Saxon Australia with restrictive divorce laws, conjugal rights and prosecution of homosexuality and Australians were OK with that! Gasp, he’d be in gaol today.
    The centre cannot hold. We need to reclaim a solid basis for a successful community rooted in our traditions. And to stop worshipping democracy. It’s a false idol.

  • GG says:

    Why do conservatives, and conservative commentators, continue to play by the rules of the Leftists? The use of the term “progressive” is a key example. It sounds forward-thinking, and advanced. It’s flattering to the Left.
    It’s not “progressive” to destroy a civilisation, to destroy global energy and economies, or to sexually abuse and mutilate children. It’s regressive.
    Please, either put the word “progressive” in inverted commas to indicate its ironic usage, or abandon it in this context altogether.
    But for God’s sake stop playing by the rules the destroyers have set.

  • vickisanderson says:

    The most limiting factor in the conservative response is our reticence from fighting as hard as the “progressives”. Maybe we are still in a state of shock that they are progressively (pardon the pun) overturning every institution and principle that western democrats hold as “given”.

    Our reticence is supported by the very advantages that the market economy and democratic rights have given us. In simple terms, we (that is, the post war generation) are still luxuriating in economic largesse – even though it is fast disappearing. However, the post millennials are now letting us know that they don’t see any opportunity to share in that windfall.

    So maybe the generation that we see as whingers will start a behind the lines movement to counter the ideologues who want to further limit opportunities for private enterprise. Watch this space.

  • wdr says:

    An interesting and useful article, but some other factors should perhaps be noted. Within the Conservative Party in the UK and the Coalition here, perhaps one-quarter of M.P.s and activists as “wets,” and “small-l liberals,” especially on issues like immigration, refugees, and “human rights,” who prevent their party moving away from the alleged mainstream. Here, we also have an electoral system which now favours minor parties that are able to obtain winning preferences, not a First Past The Post system, which, if it existed, might well result in a strong right-wing majority. There are also other institutional barriers, such as Australia’s membership in international “human rights” courts. Peter Dutton is a good man and an obvious conservative, but he has not focused on such issues as restricting immigration, despite the fact that our migrant numbers – 100,000 a month – are actively harming renters and those seeking to get on the property ladder; calls for an immediate and drastic cut in immigration would surely be a near-certain vote winner, but, despite this, Dutton has received most publicity for calling for nuclear power, probably a vote loser, and has hardly mentioned cutting immigration. It is difficult to believe that an intelligent conservative populist, such as Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, or John Howard here, would not be far ahead in the polls, given the present government’s clear vulnerability.
    The term “populist” in the English-speaking world probably stems from the “People’s Party” in the USA, which existed from the mid-1880s until the mid-1890s, and was known as the “Populists.” It was, however, on the left rather than the right.

  • wdr says:

    PS- “wdr” is William D. Rubinstein

  • KemperWA says:

    Thank you Rebecca for your common-sense article. AfD has a lot of voter support. Many AfD voters were former Green voters, who are watching their retirements and jobs evaporate. My uncles will receive only 60% of their parents pension payments. They’ve worked since age 15, while millions of non-working highly fertile Middle-Eastern immigrants suck on the teat. They are pissed-off to the extreme (excuse my French). What Australian would vote for this?!
    Germany is bankrupting their industry with Miele even making plans to shift more manufacturing operations to the USA. These ‘targets’ e.g., 2025, 2030 etc., are absurd. Young people don’t understand many of our legacy companies (that have brought us the living standards they take for granted today) spent decades organically developing or started manufacturing something else e.g. bicycles to motorbikes to cars. I am of the believe one cannot put hard timelines on human or industrial evolution.

  • KemperWA says:

    Young working Australians should be angry that suffocatingly high immigration is destroying their chance at the Australian dream. In my cul-de-sac, five of the last five houses for sale were purchased by investors. That is 100% of houses evaporated from owner-occupier reach. I find it sad that Australian couples are struggling to get a bid for an apartment or small unit, while immigrants from 3rd world countries are on (albeit renting) big block, big garden, plenty of parking space-type traditional homes. These family homes with room for a dog should be going to working Australians who will mow the lawn, clean the gutters and have a dog or two. What is going on – it’s absolutely flipped! Three bedroom, one toilet homes with one family per bedroom! Grotesque that married couples and families live like this.
    The fronts of these house are car yards, all hours of the day and night driving over well maintained reticulation infrastructure and paving and turning it into a giant sand pit. The damage and wilful neglect (not at all ‘”Diversity makes us stronger”) being wrought on our neighbourhood. Watching garden beds die and grass growing through Aussie Colourbond fencing. Aye yi yi, I cannot bear it. Shame on these slum lords outbidding hopeful Australians by $10,000 and shame on old granny Maria’s greedy offspring who accepted the offer. This mass 3rd-world immigration is changing the future for us all.

    • David Isaac says:

      Worldwide asset inflation with stagant wages has played a big role. Of course, immigration from the non-Western world has contributed to both of those phenomena. Had we restricted immigration and new citizenship rom the 1970s on and disfavoured non-citizen property ownership we could have had cheaper housing and a more harmonious, less-diverse society but imports and the now obligatory but once little countenanced overseas travel would have been much less affordable. Emigration would likely also have been a major problem. It’s doubtful whether our major shareholder (the USA) would have allowed such a policy in any case. Fabians Whitlam and Hawke eased us into the global economy with the knowledge that our fragile post-war manufacturing base would soon be in the third world, where from their standpoint, it belonged.
      With a completely inadequate defence force, ludicrously fragile supply lines and a totally fractured polity we are fully owned by the globalist American empire, and have next to no chance of unilaterally altering course Any change will need to occur simultaneously across the Western world. An end to the demoralisation of Westernkind by anti-male and anti-racist propaganda, particularly in the education system, is urgently needed.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Kemper, these housing issues are caused, as Tony Abbott notes, by policies of government, from the macro ones that make building materials hyperinflated and construction wages protected and immigration far too high, to the micro ones that operate at local council and state government levels to constrain residential land releases and infrastructure development. Additionally, when housing costs in some cities lock out young people, one alternative for them is a buy-to-let investment in less expensive cities, competing with other investors, while remaining renters, which drives up rental demand in the big cities. Most of this could be ameliorated by halting climate cult spending and reducing energy costs with cheaper electricity (I’m all for more coal-fired power), thus putting a brake on inflation, which encourages small and medium enterprises to thrive where they are currently failing. An economic re-set, including in housing availability and affordability, could then happen if we stopped all immigration for a considerable period (as it is only used by politicians to mask our GDP figures). You have rightly put your finger first on immigration, because a bad situation (climate cult hyperinflation and green and black tape hinderances) is made far worse if immigration adds to the load.

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