July 19, 2019

Realignment in Australia / NZ will come from the right, since neoliberalism came from the left

In a recent episode of the What's Left podcast, Aimee Terese mentions in passing why she rarely discusses Australian politics, despite hailing from down under. She says there's nothing going on, that their politics are stuck in the 1990s, and there's no entry point for a genuine left-wing movement. She means populist left or socialist left, obviously the elitist and neoliberal left have plenty of power.

Why is there nothing like the Bernie movement in America, or the Corbyn movement in Britain? Because Australia is like the Mediterranean countries -- France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece -- in that the neoliberal realignment circa 1980 came from the left, which has remained the dominant coalition in politics ever since. And before that, the egalitarian and populist Midcentury era was overseen by a dominant coalition from the right.

Overturning the status quo comes from the opposition's coalition, after they get enough of the dominant coalition to defect. The dominant coalition just keeps on going in one direction, no matter how sclerotic and catastrophic their governance becomes. They are too invested in the system that they themselves built and of which they have been the primary beneficiaries.

So there will never be a realignment beyond neoliberalism that comes from the left in the Mediterranean -- it has already begun with Salvini's right in Italy, and will happen in France when Le Pen wins in 2022. Nor will any such thing happen in Australia or neighboring New Zealand. Realignment from the left will only happen where the neoliberal era has been dominated by the right (America, Canada, Britain, Denmark, etc.).

See the Appendix below for a concise overview of the history of left vs. right dominance during several political eras in both Australia and New Zealand.

No matter how much the blinkered partisans want to make "left" and "right" refer to "good" and "evil" (or vice versa), they are merely variations on a common theme, which is determined by the material laws of history. The wholesome and egalitarian Midcentury came in two variations -- a left version in the Anglo-Atlantic countries, and a right version in the Mediterranean and Anglo-Pacific countries. Likewise the neoliberal hellhole since then has come in two variations -- a right version in the Anglo-Atlantic, and a left version in the Mediterranean and Anglo-Pacific.

So, too, will the post-neoliberal system come in two variations -- left in the Atlantic, right in the Med / Pacific.

Resistance to these laws is futile. The moribund dominant parties of the neoliberal era will be in the impotent opposition status during the post-neolib era, while the opposition parties of this era will shake up their membership and become the new dominant parties. And neoliberalism has destroyed the industrial-scale manufacturing basis of the modern welfare state, as well as destroying the central banks of all major nations. So something new is going to take its place as a whole system. Whether the new order comes from the left or right makes little difference, and boils down to who is currently dominant but fading, vs. who is opposition yet rising.

Concretely, if you're a populist and want to see the replacement of neoliberalism, you must work on forging a realigned left party in the Anglo-Atlantic countries, and a realigned right party in the Mediterranean and Anglo-Pacific. See this earlier post on Brexit and the disbanding of the EU relying on a realigned left in Britain and a realigned right in France (and Italy) -- Corbyn and Le Pen (and Salvini), against Merkel in Germany.

As a pleasant side effect, anti-woke left women like Aimee will find better boyfriend material when they begin allying with the nascent populist right in their countries. Such women constantly complain about what limpdick killjoys the male leftists and libs are, and tell other leftists not to hold it against them if they seek to satisfy their desires with red-blooded guys, who are more culturally conservative -- the personal is not political. And the red-blooded guys aren't going to hold it against women if they happen to be culturally liberal, provided they aren't wokescolding feminazis. It's just the right union as Me Too runs out of steam this year, and guys and girls look to mix it up with each other again.


The neoliberal era began in Australia with the ministry of Bob Hawke (Labor) in 1983, and in New Zealand with David Lange (Labour) in 1984.

Currently, the opposition right is in power in Australia (Scott Morrison, Liberal), meaning the dominant party has yet to enter its ineffectual, disjunctive phase that immediately precedes realignment. That means the earliest that the disjunctive phase could begin would be after the 2022 election, if Labor wins and proves unable to handle the massive economic crisis headed our way (everyone's way). That would leave realignment until 2025, if the Liberal party provides a right-wing alternative to the neoliberal status quo.

In New Zealand, the dominant party is back in power (Jacinda Ardern, Labour), so they could be ripe for realignment if she proves disjunctive. Her party already had to form a coalition government with the populist, immigration restrictionist New Zealand First party (a kingmaking third party last time). Still, in most places, it looks like the big realignment elections won't begin until 2022 or later, so I'd expect New Zealand to enter disjunctive status after their 2020 election, if Labour remains in power, and then realignment to strike in 2023 or 2026, bringing the National party to new dominant status, after they commit to some system other than the neoliberal status quo.

Before neoliberalism, the proto-socialist Midcentury began in Australia with Joseph Lyons (United Australia, forerunner of the Liberal party, both of which were the main right-wing party). They came to power in 1932 after the Great Depression discredited the formerly dominant Labor party, which split in 1931 and delivered a large defection to the newly dominant United Australia / Liberal party, including the trailblazing Lyons himself. Their counterpart to FDR -- the long-serving, tone-setting leader, though not the founder of the system -- was Robert Menzies (Liberal). Their counterpart to Jimmy Carter -- the ineffectual disjunctive leader during the crisis of the 1970s -- was Malcolm Fraser (Liberal). During this 51-year period, only 11 years were governed by opposition prime ministers from Labor.

The story is a little more complicated for New Zealand. Before the Great Depression, from 1890 to 1930, the left was the dominant party (Liberal, then United from its remnants), while the right was opposition (Reform). During the depths of the Depression in the early '30s, the center-left and center-right formed a grand coalition (United-Reform), in order to stave off the further-left Labour party. This meant both the center-left and center-right bore the blame for the Depression, and since the further-left Labour party was the only alternative, they came to power to pull the country out of the Depression, from 1935 to '49. Perhaps if the dominant left (United) had been the sole party in power during the early '30s, their disjunctive phase would have given way immediately to a newly dominant right (Reform).

However, Labour's rule was not a realignment but more of an interregnum, a temporary emergency to get out of the Depression. Realignments are defined by a big chunk of former rivals defecting to the new dominant party, and Labour did not gain massive defections from either the center-left or center-right, despite instituting the Keynesian policies that ended the Depression. Rather, the realignment was the formal merger, not just an alliance of convenience, of the center-left and center-right parties into a single non-Labour party. United and Reform merged into the National party, the right-wing party that began their period of dominance in 1949, which lasted through their disjunctive phase until 1984. The longest-serving dominant prime minister was Keith Holyoake, and its disjunctive ineffectual leader was Robert Muldoon.

The Labour party changed from being a further-left third party, before and during the Depression, to the center-left second party during the Midcentury, an opposition party that only controlled the government for 6 years between 1949 and 1984.

To re-cap New Zealand: the late 19th / early 20th century was dominated by the left, and dominance switched to the right during the Midcentury, with a further-left interregnum during the Depression itself. As of the mid-1980s, dominance has swung back to the left.

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