Tag Archives: Australië

Royce Kurmelovs oor Australiese politiek

Resensie-essay deur Leon Lemmer

Vroeër vanjaar was Australië plaaslik polities in die nuus toe een van sy ministers die mening uitgespreek het dat daar voorkeur aan Suid-Afrikaanse boere as immigrante gegee behoort te word. Hierdie uitlating is in Afrikanergeledere verwelkom en voorspelbaar deur die ANC-regering verdoem. Uiteindelik was daar ‘n aanduiding dat in die buiteland amptelik kennis van die benarde situasie van Suid-Afrikaanse blankes geneem word. Wat ek my afgevra het, is: Waarom nou eers en waarom ‘n respons van net ‘n enkele land?* Waar is die reaksie van die baie ander lande wat luidrugtig en vol gewetenswroeging teen rassediskriminasie en apartheid te velde getrek het? Waarom nie die huidige (wraaksugtige) rassediskriminasie deur die ANC-regering veroordeel nie?

[* Hongarye bied dalk ook ‘n heenkome aan blanke Suid-Afrikaanse vlugtelinge. Die Visegrad-lande (Hongarye, Pole, Tsjeggië, Slowakye) verset hulle teen die massa-immigrasie uit die Midde-Ooste, Ooste en Afrika wat Europa oorspoel. Die Europese Unie (EU), onder die leiding van Duitsland en Frankryk, verwag dat alle EU-lande volgens kwotas hierdie “vlugtelinge” moet inneem. Die Hongaarse eerste minister, Viktor Orban, het in 2016 gesê: “Hungary would open its door to ‘true refugees’ – those from Western Europe fleeing the breakdown of their societies” (Julian Langness, Identity rising, St Paul: ES Linden, 2017, 337p; Amazon Kindle $1.14, 3003). As Europeërs kwalifiseer blanke Suid-Afrikaners moontlik ook. Maar om Hongaarse burgerskap te bekom, sal dit maar bars gaan om Hongaars, ‘n nie-Euro/Indo-Germaanse taal, baas te raak.]

Soos in Amerika en Brittanje is daar tradisioneel twee groot politieke partye in Australië. In die regering wissel die Arbeidersparty en die Liberale Party (in koalisie met die Nasionale Party) mekaar af. Die Arbeidersparty is links en die Liberale Party en Nasionale Party regs van die sentrum. Soos in Amerika en Brittanje het die tradisioneel duidelike onderskeid tussen die twee hoofpartye gedurende die afgelope dekades vervaag. “The Libs never gave a damn about ordinary people, while Labor have given up their blue-collar roots” (Royce Kurmelovs, Rogue nation: Dispatches from Australia’s populist uprisings and outsider politics, Sydney: Hachette, 2017, 272p; Amazon Kindle $14.02, 1789). “Labor has largely abandoned the bottom 30 per cent to pursue the aspirational middle ever since 1996” (3117). Daar is ook talle kleiner politieke partye* en “onafhanklikes” wat koalisievennote in die sentrale (of federale) regering of in die ses staatsregerings kan wees. Kurmelovs verwys na “the deeper sickness within the major parties” (3048).

[* Daar is bv die United Patriots Front (UPF): “Among the loose constellation of extreme groups which make up Reclaim Australia, the UPF were the most militant. They were fascist in the plainest sense of the word” (2305). Kurmelovs gebruik die term “fascis” glad te graag as hy iemand wil slegsê – kyk hier onder.]

Die kernprobleem wat die kiesers al hoe meer met die politiek het, is die politici. Die politici is dikwels kansvatters wat nie die mas in die openbare sektor kan opkom nie en hulle dan tot die politiek wend, wat buitensporige vergoeding en byvoordele bied, terwyl geen bewys van formele kwalifikasies of prestasie vereis word nie. Nigel Farage het as leier van die United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) bekendheid verwerf. Hy sê: “People are not disenchanted with politics. They are disconnected from the politically-correct carer class of politicians. Just look at them. It is like a game. They are all fighting desperately to hold the middle ground. They are made up of focus-groupies, triangulators, dog-whistlers, politicians who daren’t say what they really mean. And we [UKIP] are different from that. We stand up and tell it like it is and whether people agree with it or nor at least they know where we stand … and I’m proud of that” ( Matthew Lynn, Independently minded: The rise of Nigel Farage, Endeavor Press, 2014, 67p; Amazon Kindle $4.59, 73).

UKIP “is an uprising against a professional, managerial class of politicians, and against the alliance of big business and big government that is not only estranged from ordinary people, but increasingly doesn’t seem to care much about them either” (91). “Democracies had been hi-jacked by professional politicians, creating a network of parties, think-tanks, bureaucracies, lobbyists and political correspondents that talked mainly to each other and for whom politics was really just a career rather than a calling” (651). Die Europese Unie, volgens Farage, “has been captured by a bureaucracy, which has put its own survival above any other objective” (508). “UKIP became the protest party, the anti-system party” (690).

“Farage is well aware that campaigning as an anti-politician is a big part of his appeal” (708). YouTube word beskryf as “the single most important factor in the rise of [UKIP]” (381). Farage het 100 000 volgelinge op Twitter (385). Die naam Reclaim Australia is eintlik dieselfde as UKIP se slagspreuk: “We want our country back” (86). “Withdrawing from Europe [is] a way of re-claiming [British] sovereignty and the power to make decisions locally” (809). Al hoe meer Australiërs eis hulle land terug omdat hulle voel dat die blanke inwoners deur nie-wit immigrante uit Asië en Afrika verswelg word.

Die inkrimping van die tradisioneel groot politieke partye in Australië en die opkoms van kleiner partye en die verkiesing van onafhanklikes bring mee dat koalisies gevorm moet word voordat daar ‘n regering kan wees. In hierdie situasie “the country independents became kingmakers” (Kurmelovs 1576). In koalisie maak hulle dit vir die groter partye moontlik om ‘n regering te vorm, wat beteken “power is a cooperative relationship” (1616). “With the trend towards government by coalition and a persistently fractured Senate, populists are powerful. Each represents a regional blend on the same general theme, operates on the same basic principles, and will often work with each other at the expense of the major parties. They are, in a manner of speaking, a decentralised, emergent political party” (3031). As gevolg van die moontlikheid van koalisievorming “voting for a minor party or independent candidate is a lottery, as there’s no way of knowing where your vote will end up. This may be true, but then politics itself has never been a perfectly rational process” (3053).

In opvolging van my artikel oor Chinese indringing in Australië en elders (Praag 16.06.2018) het ek Kurmelovs se boek gelees. Daarin word na “the Asian Invasion” van Australië verwys (1341). Dit gaan nie net om immigrante nie, maar ook om vlugtelinge, wat nie net om politieke redes gevlug het nie, maar dikwels eerder om ekonomiese redes. Die boek word geadverteer as “essential reading about Australian politics.” Die outeur is ‘n joernalis wat eerstehandse kennis van die Australiese politiek het. Sy invalshoek is die tans reeds geykte verbandlegging tussen drie verskynsels: die verkiesing van Donald Trump as Amerika se president in 2016,* die 2016-referendum-uitslag wat die uittrede van Brittanje uit die Europese Unie tot gevolg gaan hê (Brexit), asook politieke populisme,** wat die vorm van anti-elitisme kan aanneem. Hierdie drie verskynsels word as ‘n verskuiwing na regs vertolk. Die volgende is ‘n onmiskenbare hoewel versluierde anti-Trump-verwysing: “What had happened to us, and the rest of the world, when fear-mongers and conspiracy nuts were suddenly put in charge of nuclear codes and the national budget?” (91).

[* Trump se verkiesing is in Australië onder meer verwelkom as “the ‘beginning of the Western spring’, a reference to the Arab Spring that toppled autocratic regimes across the Middle East” (1465).

** “Populism … is radical democracy and a by-product of neglect or indifference by the status quo. It works by taking different interests and binding them together against a common enemy, a coalition of the underdogs united, despite the traditional antagonisms or apparent contradictions between them, along a clear overarching theme” (3015). “Populism in itself isn’t a bad thing, but it’s what you combine it with that makes it potent. Mixed with the left, it focuses on those with money and power. Blended with the right, it takes aim at immigrants, refugees and enemies of the nation. Keep it in the centre and everyone ends up unsatisfied. Put it in a coalition and its worst impulses are tempered, allowing it to do some good by pushing for reform in those area that sorely need it. Give it majority rule, things can turn ugly” (3020) – bv die ANC se mobilisering van anti-blanke sentiment.]

Kurmelovs se teks het by my van meet af dieselfde indruk as Gabriël Botma se boek, Polemieke (Praag 7.04.2018), gewek – dat Kurmelovs eerder links as regs neig en hy sy politieke oortuigings, soos Botma, grootliks terughou tot kort voor die einde van sy boek. Die leser word op ‘n rit op ‘n jollielorrie (“band wagon”) van aktualiteit geneem, wat veraangenaam word deur goed geformuleerde, vloeiende teks. Die outeur het baie van die inligting tydens veldwerk op die Australiese platteland versamel – nie in die stede waar die politici by voorkeur vertoef nie – wat uiteraard die waarde van die boek verhoog. Kurmelovs verwys na ‘n spesifieke politikus wat hy beskryf as “a walking stereotype, an embodiment of the way city folk see country people” (1506), wat by daardie politikus sekerlik ‘n skeut vooroordele en wanvoorstellings insluit. Die oorgrote meerderheid Australiërs is stadsbewoners.

Die saambindende faktor in die teks is Pauline Hanson (gebore in 1954), “an iconic Australian brand” (202) en die leier van die politieke party One Nation. Sedert 2016 is sy en drie van haar partygenote senatore in die federale parlement in Canberra. One Nation is soos volg gekarakteriseer: “We are a predominantly working-class nationalist party – what some may call a ‘right wing’ workers’ party” (1407) – dus nie aan dieselfde kant as die Arbeidersparty nie. “What makes us a ‘workers’ party’ is that the membership and support base of One Nation is made up of often poorly paid, hardworking Aussies whose basic decency, quiet patriotism, strong moral compass and fierce work ethic define them as the heart and soul of our nation” (1413). Wat hieruit afgelei kan word, is dat One Nation se ondersteuners blankes is. Een van hulle huldig die volgende menings: “I’m not against immigration, we’ve had good people come into this country before. They didn’t live on handouts. I’m here [at a One Nation meeting] to stand for Australian values our forefathers fought for and to see that the Australian lifestyle, culture and laws that we have always known, carry on into the future” (2276).

Kurmelovs skryf: “Once Trump had gone global, all it would take was one heartfelt lie in a post-fact universe [or “post-truth politics” – 468]* for One Nation to sweep through those areas of the country that were so cynical, so withdrawn, they would turn the whole system on its head” (180). “One Nation shared its name with the title of a speech Don Watson had written for Labor prime minister Paul Keating [1991-1996], and she barnstormed the country to spread the word” (240).

[* Trump “was just the biggest, loudest voice engaging in ‘post-fact’ or ‘post-truth’ politics” (1330). Naas die geykte etiket “racist” is “post-fact” en “post-truth” die nuwe terme waarmee konserwatiewes sleggesê word as daar nie van hulle regse politiek gehou word nie. Maar Trump is eerder nasionalisties as regs.]

In die Wikipedia-artikel oor Hanson (waarvan Kurmelovs ruimskoots gebruik maak, veral in hoofstuk 2) word genoem dat sy van rassisme beskuldig word omdat sy gekant teen Asiate en swart Afrikane as immigrate is. Sy het swart Afrikane met die toename in misdaad in Australië verbind. Sy verwerp multikulturalisme en het haar gevolglik die verwyt van xenofobie/vreemdelingehaat op die hals gehaal. Sy het dit veral teen Moslems as immigrante. “We are in danger of being swamped by Muslims who bear a culture and ideology that is incompatible with our own.” Hanson het die owerheidsbevoordeling van die inheemse Australiërs (“Aboriginals” en die “Torres Strait Islanders”)* bo ander Australiërs as die uitdrukking van politieke korrektheid gekarakteriseer en dit as omgekeerde rassediskriminasie veroordeel.

[* In die Amerikaanse idioom noem Kurmelovs hierdie twee groepe “First Nations” (2965). Wie eerste op ‘n plek was, word deesdae polities byderwets beklemtoon, bv die Khoi-San in Suidelike Afrika. Van groter belang, myns insiens, is wat die verskillende etniese groepe tot stand gebring het. Die Torres-seestraat is tussen Australië en Papoea-Nieu-Guinee. Soos die ANC het albei die genoemde Australiese inboorlinggroepe hulle eie vlae, wat in die Wikipedia besigtig kan word. In Suid-Afrika mag ons vorige landsvlag eintlik nie meer vertoon word nie en ons vorige volkslied verkieslik nie gesing word nie. Ek dink Afrikaners behoort (soos Steve Hofmeyr) ongeïntimideerd voort te gaan met die sing van die pragtige “Die Stem”, want daarop kan kwalik verbeter word. Die vorige landsvlag was egter ‘n kompromie waarop verbeter kan/moet word, bv deur die Britse vlag weg te laat. Ek dink die tyd is ryp vir die ontwerp, bekendstelling en daarna die deurlopende en wydverspreide openbare vertoon van ‘n Afrikanervlag. As ‘n Australiese inboorlinggroep ‘n eie vlag kan hê, dan sekerlik ook die Afrikaners. Dit kan (aanvanklik) as ‘n kulturele eerder as ‘n staatkundige vlag gebruik word, bv die VOC-vlag (my broer se voorstel) of die Prinsenvlag (Dan Roodt se voorstel). Afbeeldings van albei verskyn in die Wikipedia.]

Hanson beskou globalisering en ander polities byderwetse standpunte as ‘n bedreiging vir Australiërs se identiteit. In Australië is daar – soos (veral voorheen) in Brittanje en Europa – in politieke geledere wydverspreide onwilligheid om te erken dat bv immigrant-ingevoerde multikulturaliteit probleme veroorsaak. Maar dink aan Enoch Powell (1912-1998) wat in Brittanje ‘n vroeë stem roepende in ‘n woestyn van ontkenning was (Praag 30 April 2016). In die hoofstroom-inligtingsmedia in Australië is daar sterk teenkanting teen Hanson se idees; dermate dat sy en haar partygenote verplig voel om hierdie media te vermy en hulle eerder tot die sosiale media te wend.

“When people start to worry about their future, they start to look for alternatives” (163). Dit is sekerlik die stadium waarin Afrikaners behoort te wees. Aan die begin maak Kurmelovs dit duidelik dat sy boek nie oor die politieke hoofstroom handel nie maar oor alternatiewe (69). “I did not want to write it from the perspective of the major parties … Instead, my book would be told from the perspective of the rogues and the strays who are now sitting in parliament” (91) – vandaar die boektitel. Hy beskou sy boek as “a field report on the health of our democracy,* asking why politics seemed to be unable to see the barbarians coming until they were storming the gate” (79). Dié formulering is (dalk) doelbewus dubbelsinnig. Word met daardie “barbare” die hedendaagse multikulturele stroom immigrante bedoel wat regse politici tot verset motiveer of verwys “barbare” na die al hoe groter aanhang wat regse politieke partye, bv One Nation, by die kiesers geniet?

[* Democracy functions when the losing side of an election continues to see their quality of life get better, despite the result” (2993). In hierdie sin is daar in die nuwe Suid-Afrika nie ‘n funksionerende demokrasie nie.]

Die persepsie bestaan dat immigrante werksgeleenthede van Australiese burgers ontneem. Hanson “was someone who preyed on the hopes and frustrations of working-class and country people” (85). “Hanson drew her support from women, the elderly, those without university qualifications and those in trades – who were all angry at the government” (3004). Kurmelovs wou eerstehands kennis met regse politici en hulle ondersteuners maak. “If I wanted to understand something [! – not someone/somebody] like Pauline Hanson with any real clarity, if I wanted to know what the hell happened out there, I had to be out there with the rest of them” (101).

Die verwagting dat Hillary Clinton in 2016 tot Amerikaanse president verkies sou word, word ‘n “collective delusion” genoem (118). Trump het die frase “drain the swamp” effektief in sy verkiesingsveldtog gebruik (147, 455) om te illustreer hoe van ongewenste dinge ontslae geraak moet word, net soos ‘n moeras sonder water nie muskiete/peste kan huisves nie. Trump het dieselfde woorde as voorgangers soos Ronald Reagan en Pat Buchanan gebruik. Maar selfs in die Wikipedia-artikel is daar geen blyke dat Benito Mussolini dieselfde frase vir politieke doeleindes benut het deur na die Poltine-moeras in Italië te verwys nie. Die volgende uitlating het my aan die ANC-regering herinner wat veral blankes, maar eintlik almal wat nie swart Afrikane is nie, vervreem en nogtans van nasiebou praat: “These days, they’re on about ‘Nation Building’ … But it’s a pie chart, not people. It’s figures in a book, not people” (1838).

Hanson het verwag dat Australië dieselfde koersverandering sou ondergaan as wat deur Trump en Brexit gesimboliseer word (281). Sy bewonder ook Vladimir Poetin se leierskap (2872). Daar is myns insiens heelwat onderliggende distansiëring, selfs vyandigheid, van Kurmelovs in die volgende twee aanhalings oor One Nation: “This [2016] was a turning point. Until then, the party had been a small but fanatical movement of Australian nationalists, each chasing their own unique vision of an Australia that no longer existed.* Then, it was a protectionist party, of the ‘Buy Australian’ variety. Now, it was hard-wiring itself into international networks of climate-change deniers and obscure ideological driven think tanks. In other words, One Nation was now speaking with an American accent” (310). “After all, she [Hanson] had done it first, before Brexit, before Trump, all the way back in ’96. She had championed a bizarre [?] ethno-nationalism before the internet helped similar groups network their way across the planet, and it had made her one of the most recognisable Australians … No, she was no Trump, but they were cut from the same cloth” (337).

[* Kurmelovs verwys hierna as “the poisonous nostalgia that has helped Hanson rise again” (3004). In Suid-Afrika word polities byderwets van Afrikaners verwag om nie nostalgies oor die verlede te wees nie. Sodanige nostalgie sou misplaas wees slegs as die hede beter is as wat die verlede was.]

“One Nation’s rise or fall depended on their ability to ‘professionalise’ in the way Marine Le Pen, daughter of French fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen, had done for her father’s party when she forced him out and took control” (1106). Hanson, anders as Marine le Pen, “will never become prime minister” (3031) omdat Hanson nie van dieselfde stoffasie as Marine le Pen is nie. Hanson se opgang, ondergang en terugkeer in die politiek herinner eerder aan “the dotcom bubble in the late nineties” (1202). ‘n Ondersteuner sê: Hanson “said a lot of things he agreed with, a lot of things he thought other people were too afraid to say” (2699). Maar daar is blykbaar nie genoeg onderliggende substansie en sigbare finesse by Hanson nie. Die toespraak van Hanson wat Kurmelovs in besonderhede aanhaal (2799), klink goed beredeneerd, maar die vraag is of sy dit geskryf het. Dit is kommerwekkend dat daar in One Nation nie ‘n plaasvervanger vir Hanson te bespeur is nie. Haar partygenote word “Pauline Hanson-lite” genoem (1929). Hanson het aanvanklik te vroeg met haar goeie idees op die politieke terrein verskyn. Noudat daardie idees al hoe meer aanvaarding verwerf, lyk dit asof Hanson en One Nation nie oor die vaardighede beskik om werklik ‘n deurbraak te maak nie. Maar juis omdat daardie idees aanvanklik onbekend of ongewild was, is dit onaanvaarbaar om hulle sonder meer as populisties te etiketteer.

In die laaste hoofstuk wys Kurmelovs openlik sy ware politieke kleure. Hy besoek die vis- en skyfieswinkel wat Hanson voor haar loopbaan as politikus in Ipswich bedryf het, asof dit noodwendig ‘n ongunstige assosiasie moet wees. Die outeur verlekker hom oor die feit dat Viënamese nou die besigheid besit, dus Asiatiese immigrante waarteen Hanson gekant is: “I … soak in the glorious irony of a Vietnamese refugee family taking over a chip shop once owned by the woman who raised her voice over fears about ‘being swamped by Asians’ and hordes of boat people” (2941). Kurmelovs noem daardie sake-onderneming sonder meer “the birthplace of Australian fascism” (2941). Dít kom van Kurmelovs wat Marine le Pen se National Front-party (onlangs hernoem as Rassemblement National/National Rally) sommer ook as “fascism rebranded” karakteriseer (3111).

“Hanson worked this joint [the fish and chips shop], hers was an ant’s-eye view of the world, with all the limits and constraints and distortions that entails. Everything seems bigger with that perspective. Everything makes you afraid. The newpaper headlines seem louder, so too does the television” (2959). Die armoede, onsekerheid en onvergenoegdheid wat Kurmelovs op die Australiese platteland teëgekom het, bly egter ‘n werklikheid wat nie ontken kan word nie. In hierdie opsig het Hanson nie verkeerd nie. “Economic problems, after all, are felt as cultural problems. Class may frame an issue, but race contours or deepens it. Social media then transmits the result” (2976).

Hanson word beskryf as “a product of random chance that has rewritten the rule book” (3059). “Without her name, One Nation is nothing” (3105). “No amount of data … could have predicted that one racist letter to a Brisbane newspaper would have triggered a series of events that saw Pauline Hanson pushed onto the national stage, leading to a fundamental restructering of the right in Australian politics with long-term consequences for issues as diverse as Aboriginal land rights, refugee policy and even climate change” (3070). “She is a woman of broad strokes, with an aggressive, short-term, transactional approach to politics and an intuitive feel for exploiting people’s arrogrance, anger and hurt, all in the right place, at the write time” (3082). “The people who vote One Nation … may not believe half of what Hanson says, if they’re being honest, but that is not the point. All that matters is that she connects, on some level, with their frustration, their resentment, their need to be recognised as clued in to what’s ‘really going on’, and that she seems to scare the living hell out of the bastards. The louder the outrage, the sweeter the sound” (3093).

Oor die genoemde “racist letter” skryf Kurmelovs: “Hanson penned a letter to the editor of the Queensland Times on 6 January 1996, complaining that white deaths in custody were being overlooked and Indigenous people were being ‘showered with money’”(213). Sy was toe ‘n lid van die Liberale Party. Van 1994 tot 1995 was sy ‘n stadraadslid vir Ipswich. In 1996, toe haar brief gepubliseer is, was sy ‘n kandidaat in die federale verkiesing. Toe hy van die brief hoor “John Howard, as leader of the Liberal Party, dropped her from the ticket and banished her from the party” (218). Op die stembriewe het “Liberal Party” egter steeds teenoor haar naam gestaan. Sy is verkies en het as ‘n onafhanklike haar plek in die federale parlement in Canberra ingeneem (1996-1998).

Fascisme het ‘n verskeidenheid kenmerke sodat die term op sowel linkse as regse politieke verskynsels toegepas kan word. Madeleine Albright skryf: “‘Fascist’ was the most versatile of insults” en “To use the term ‘Fascist’ is to reveal oneself” (Praag 19.05.2018). Kurmelovs het sy politieke gesindheid geopenbaar deur Hanson met die teerkwas van rassisme en fascisme by te kom. Wat hy eintlik wou tuisbring, is dat hy nie van haar politiek hou nie. Kurmelovs is deel van Australië se stedelike politieke establishment. Sy veldwerk op die platteland het hom nie daartoe beweeg om sy politieke heil buite die hoofstroom te soek nie.