I’ve written a fair few articles about the way the Right react to disagreement. There was a piece on this in general, a look at the way Jordan Peterson reacted to Foucault and Peterson’s modes of silencing discussion, some considerations of responses to Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN [1, 2, 3], and lots of stuff on Religious ‘Liberty’ to persecute. This is just a continuing footnote.
Firstly Peter Dutton’s reaction to people engaging in Extinction Rebellion protests was that these people “should be jailed until their behaviour changes”. He implied that they were “bludgers”, who should have their welfare payments stopped. He gave no evidence for this position, and I know people in the movement who definitely hold down jobs, and plenty of businesses seemed happy for people to attend the climate strike, so I presume this was an attempt to discredit them in the ways that he and his government attempt to dehumanize and punish people on NewStart in general. Of course, he did not explain why people on NewStart should not be able to protest against government policy. He just assumed that such a position was normal and acceptable. People who are relatively weak or poor, are obviously immoral. He also requested that “People should take these names and the photos of these people and distribute them as far and wide as they can.” In his view, it seems surveillance must be total, and encourage people in general to get at those with what he considers to be deviant views. His problem seems to be that judges were not imprisoning people for dissent, even though people are being charged with offenses and fined, some of them had even tried to embarrass him – How dare they…..
Assuming that the government acts on these arguments, the next step could well be to threaten people with pensions and uni-students on loans, and then anyone on any government money, including university lecturers, public servants, people doing research, probably people who receive money from the government for contracting work and so on… There is no real end to this – and perhaps that is the point. It is also possible he is just sounding the media out to see if he can get the usual righteous shouters on board.
Secondly, the coalition has been encouraging business to speak on public issues for quite a while now. They like polluting businesses speaking up against pollution taxes, they did not complain when the minerals council claimed responsibility for overthrowing a prime minister of the other party, they liked businesses speaking up against inquiries into the banking system, they liked businesses speaking in favour of corporate tax cuts, deregistering unions for action, and other policies they were proposing. They never stop saying how these kind of comments from business show how their policies are in the national interest.
However, we have recently witnessed the strange phenomena of businesses deciding that maybe we should talk about climate change. Ecological destruction will eventually affect earnings, there is the risk of stranded assets, there is “Carbon risk” , there is risk from massive storms and destruction, there is risk of flooding from sea level rise. There are all kinds of risks which affect business if climate change gets worse and the government continues to do nothing. Given the long delays that the Coalition has supported, it is possible that it is now too late and we are stuck with the probable danger of economic collapse through ecological collapse.
However the Righteous reaction to criticism (as opposed to support) is that companies should shut up, or that companies are loud, or that companies are cowards yeilding to activists (sure!), or that ecological destruction has no economic consequences. In general, it appears their attitude is that you only have the right to praise the Right.
Third, in NSW there has been a rare loss of planning permission for a coal mine, because emissions cannot be confined and have an effect on global climate change. The Minerals Council (or the union for mining companies) is upset about this. Previously the government has passed legislation to ensure the prohibited mine is acceptable by changing the requirements, which then apply retrospectively. The government is now considering legislation that could limit the ability for planning authorities to rule out coalmine projects based on the climate change impact of emissions from the coal. The planning minister, Rob Stokes, has said it was “not appropriate for state governments to impose conditions about emissions policies in other countries”. Oh those poor other countries. But aren’t we always being told that if we don’t sell them the coal they will buy it elsewhere? So we cannot imposes conditions about emissions on other countries, we can just refuse to participate in the destruction here and overseas. But righteous virtue always has to be easy and profitable. The government is also trying to discourage protest and is proposing a new law which punishes unlawful entry to ‘enclosed lands’ with up to three years in jail and increases fines from $5,500 to $22,000. Other laws are being proposed to curb inconvenience to business and private owners, presumably because this is more important than allowing people to protest against government policy in a way which is noticed.
Just to make it clear this is not unique to Australia. In the US:
- The Department of Agriculture relocated their economists who published findings showing financial harm arising to farmers because of the administration’s trade policies.
- The acting White House chief of staff apparently instructed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to support the president’s assertions about the path of hurricane Dorian. It was reported that they threatened to fire top officials if they did not do what they were told.
- The Interior Department reassigned its top climate scientist to an accounting role after he mentioned the dangers of climate change.
Homeland security and the Patriot act, set up to defend the US from terrorists is now being used to defend mining and fracking operations from the objections of local people. Given the FBI’s constant preference for policing left wing activists rather than rightwingers this should not be a surprise.
The obvious point is that dissent from the righteous view of the world has to be punished or threatened. It is much more important that they be correct, than that they change their minds to deal with new data, or new understandings. People who have different understandings and who opposed them, are by definition ‘evil’ and to be crushed.
This idea they must be right, and dissent must be punished, is fundamental to their understanding of the world. It is like the request that religious people should have the right to sack or namecall anyone because of that person’s differences, but maintain the right to be protected from being sacked or namecalled for their own differences. Indeed the issue may even originate in Christianity’s persecution of heretics and people of other religions. Perhaps, this monotheism cannot accept that any deviance can be anything other than satanic, and to be purged? Perhaps it is just that Capitalism as a monotheism that makes profit its only value is authoritarian?
Equity of action is not understood at all. It appears to be govenment by dogma, and threat, and the righteous have to be right, and they will stop at nothing to assert being right. They certainly will not normally discuss anything, or accept they could be wrong.