The path forward for conservatives is clear, now that the coup executed by Malcolm Turnbull has eradicated any illusions that the Liberal Party led by Tony Abbott could be an effective bulwark against the evermore intrusive power of the state as it seeks completely to colonize civil society and dominate every aspect of life.
Abbott had his chance right at the start of his prime ministership to make manifestly clear where he stood philosophically on the liberal-conservative continuum of political theory and principle. He had only to fulfil one election promise: repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to restore free speech and expression of opinion – and he chose quite deliberately to break that promise. Apparently he was seeking to curry favour with various lobby groups anxious to retain their state-endorsed shield from all criticism or negative opinion (and, of course, notoriously, he failed in this demeaning aspiration). It was a defining moment. If he couldn’t be relied upon to do that one iconic thing then what else was he good for?
Now he has been swept unceremoniously aside, as Liberal MPs had their minds focused by an impending election wipe-out and, clutching at straws, turned to Malcolm Turnbull, whose political philosophy is even more bankrupt than Abbott’s. Despite airy-fairy motherhood statements about exciting economic and technological challenges, etc., this consists of little more than a fierce desire to snatch the prime ministership by appealing to inner-city progressives and trendoids, who are themselves driven by an insatiable narcissistic lust to assert their moral purity and remake the world in their own effete image.
Like Abbott, Turnbull is associated with political positions that reveal his ultimate allegiances. He was (and apparently still is) a proponent of an emissions trading scheme that would set up an entirely new market in carbon dioxide. This would engulf all of the world’s industries and would be ruthlessly manipulated and exploited by financial institutions, merchant bankers and their associates to make vast fortunes while posturing about saving the planet from a trace gas that constitutes a mere 0.04 percent (400 ppm) by volume of the Earth’s atmosphere, and is also, just incidentally, the very building block of life.
In another area of progressivist policy, Turnbull is also a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage or so-called ‘marriage equality’. This is a legislative Trojan Horse that would allow LGBTI folk of various and divergent sexual proclivities to mobilize the power of the state against any persons or institutions (especially religious ones) that they could claim were discriminating against them in terms of employment, education, training, ‘hate speech’, religious ceremony, etc. It would be a legislative Pandora’s Box, so to speak.
All of these areas of public policy share one crucial characteristic – they involve the mobilization of state power to impose vast new structures of tightly regulated behaviour upon society that would not otherwise have evolved of their own accord. They also necessitate massive bureaucracies based on the Promethean assumption that the almost infinite intricacies of social, economic, and ecological life can be grasped, modelled, manipulated, and directed by the apparatus of the state (in which, of course, much of Turnbull’s progressivist constituency would be employed).
And let there be no doubt about it, this is the progressivist agenda: systematically to erode the power and autonomy of the individual, the family, the community and civil society, and to replace them with the Leviathan State, with its great tangled mass of bureaucratic tentacles reaching down to surveil, regulate and ultimately strangle the most intimate of personal and social relationships, covering every area of life.
It has become common to call this Leviathan the ‘Nanny State’, but that is far too kind a label and obscures the deadening and stultifying effect this multi-layered monstrosity has on everyday life. It suggests that the state can play a nurturing and empowering role in peoples’ lives, when in fact it plays a deadening and exploitative role, destroying initiative and draining money and resources from the productive sectors of society to fund its unquenchable appetite for power and domination.
It is far better to call the progressivist Leviathan for what it is – Left Fascism or what Jonah Goldberg called (in the American context) ‘liberal fascism’. In Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (2008) Goldberg explored H. G. Wells’ elitist conception of Fabian socialism (which is a prominent force on the Australian left) as a form of ‘enlightened Nazism’, and how this this and other variants of this fundamentally anti-liberal Statist ideology have unfolded since the New Deal. Goldberg’s focus was on ‘the Totalitarian Temptation’ towards total statist control. This is an ideological tendency that has successfully seduced the Western intelligentsia and political class, especially over the past fifty years, since classical liberalism was delegitimized by the cultural revolution of the Sixties.
So the path forward for conservatives must be to confront and confound the ever-growing Leviathan State. In doing so they will converge with libertarians on a range of issues where cooperation could be very effective, while in other areas libertarianism’s apparent lack of a coherent theory of society and the role of tradition might require some theoretical and philosophical engagement between conservatives and libertarians, e.g., over the concept of ‘marriage equality’.
Ultimately, the conservative path forward reiterates a very clear political agenda that had currency in the Thatcher-Reagan years and some impact in Australia under Hawke, Keating, and Howard, before the progressivist reaction of the past few decades led the political class to succumb to the Totalitarian Temptation. It is an agenda that can be succinctly communicated: wind back the state and let society evolve in its own good time; free up the markets; subject all government programs to a rigorous and ruthless evaluation; demand accountability for every public expenditure and activity; reduce taxes and reward initiative; leave peoples’ wealth in their own hands, along for responsibility for their lives; resist the siren call of vocal, well-resourced lobby groups anxious to exploit state power to remake society to suit themselves.
And, of course, break up and sell off the ABC, thus decapitating the progressivist media monster.