On The Triumph of Fear, Loathing and Selfishness

Drew Pavlou

The Coalition’s victory tonight was wholly unexpected. Scott Morrison’s unwelcome surprise success will no doubt be dissected ad nauseum by the media commentariat in the coming weeks. I propose we start this torrid business as soon as possible. This piece will attempt to do so by considering the archetypal Liberal voter from an anthropological perspective.

There’s a certain kind of mediocre, thoughtless, brain-dead middle-class Australian voter that consistently holds our nation back. They live in a heavily mortgaged McMansion out in the suburbs in a world of urban sprawl. This voter has a very limited grasp of our constitutional system and is thus easily swayed by undue attempts to turn elections to our House of Representatives into presidential style campaigns. This voter is profoundly selfish, willing to fuck almost anything and everything – the environment, the poor, the voiceless, etc – in return for tax cuts for their bosses. Hoping as hyenas do to be able to feast on the scraps of the main course meal, they are willing to trade their vote to the boss class in the hope that some crumb of the wealth of the mining magnates and economic rentiers that rule our country will eventually trickle down to them. In a way, this voter is really quite pathetic. We can have sympathy for them as we have sympathy for non-playable characters in video games, doomed to forever repeat the same scripted stock lines unto death. It probably is quite hard making it through life without any kind of internal dialogue or capacity for critical self-reflection. But the selfishness and hatred of this voter has very real consequences for the rest of us, and so they are a justified target for our criticism and contempt.

Scott Morrison is the masturbatory fantasy of this mediocre, middling voter. He can’t be accused of intellectual snobbery – with a “Fair Dinkum” campaign based on such uninspiring, nonsensical platitudes as “It is my vision for this country as your Prime Minister to keep the Promise of Australia to all Australians,” he speaks right to the  low level of these people. As a former ad man and snake oil salesman that struck it rich working in an industry as fundamentally unproductive as public relations, he symbolizes all that the mediocre middle-class craves – success within a managed world of greed, hedonism and overconsumption that has no relationship to the actual needs of real human beings. The mediocre middle-class voter recognizes the fact that we live in a dystopia – they just think it is rather quite bearable. Taking the kids to soccer games on the weekend in their gas guzzling SUV fuelled by endless wars in the Middle East, going to the shopping centre to support the consumer economy, engaging in missionary sex in the dark for three minutes a week – this is enough for the middle-class mediocre voter. And consequently, Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party are enough.

The middle-class mediocre voter does not want to rock the boat. Shifty Bill Shorten seems unlikable for some vague reason they can’t quite articulate. When they watch Married At First Sight, or some other similarly vapid, coma-inducing reality television show, the focus-grouped attack commercials that are run during ad breaks show unflattering images of Bill Shorten and say things like: “Bill Shorten, the Bill Australia cannot afford.” They nod sagely to themselves and make a note that Bill Shorten is a bill that Australia (read: their bosses) cannot afford. Later, they see an advertisement on Facebook which mentions something about a tax increase. This immediately triggers in them deeply ingrained evolutionary responses. Just as silverback gorillas will fight to the death over the status conferred by control of resources such as coconuts within the group, the mediocre middle-class voter will fight to the death to defend their relative position in society in relation to the poor and vulnerable. Any increase to their absolute position must be resisted in order to preserve what middling social prestige the mediocre suburban voter enjoys in a society dominated by an aristocratic few. If a couple homeless people have to die sleeping rough on the streets this winter in order to preserve the family’s annual trips to Thredbo, so be it. The middle-class mediocre voter has no notion of the common good. Any abuse, however extreme, is justified in the name of lower taxes.

Through this all, we continue our inexorable march toward a feudal, slave-like future. We continue our long, solemn march towards a hellish climate apocalypse. As the clock runs down on our ability to right these wrongs, to halt rising inequality and ruinous global warming, we sleepwalk into a world of chaos, death and destruction. The mediocre middle-class voter doesn’t mind this, so long as the next couple years entail more of the same. That’s what Scott Morrison offered them. They signed up to this destructive Faustian pact. Shame on them. Australia’s future looks bleak.

19 Comments

  1. A piece of writing that can be used as a textbook example of intellectual retardation in its heavily narcissistic and misplaced sense of superiority.

    The writer must surely support colonialism since those poor, stupid souls that disagree with his worldview area all wrong and need to be told what to think and care about by their self-appointed overlords.

    Identity politics such as demonstrated in this piece is just another reason why people like the author will only move about in the echo chamber of their making, further cementing their misplaced ideas on what they think they know about the world.

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    1. He not disagreeing with anyone. He stating the plain and honest truth about the sheer ignorance and greed that is swamping not only this country but the world. Whilst some countries fight to have democracy, we find the whole political process to be bit of a pain in the arse and not worthy of investing any real thought unless of course it effects them personally. This fits in beautifully with a right wing arsehole like Clive Palmer who then scares the crap out of people with lies and simplistic messages that resonate because of the electorates own inward and ignorant personas. We are hurtling down a hole of no return environmentally, spiritually, ethically and in terms of fairness and equity the Australia I know is going down a drain hole.

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      1. Robin, judging people will not help though, because ALL of us derive benefit from the system as it is. We are all selfish, just in different ways. We need to subvert the system by deeds, not words (well, deeds first), then and only then will people want what we have. This includes volunteering in schools, LGA, and other community things etc to get the message out to young people and others, again through deeds.

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    2. Yet Peter, you actively exemplify the same traits you just criticised without contributing to the topic under discussion …or did you just want to see your words in print?

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  2. This is really dangerous commentary. “mediocre, thoughtless, brain-dead middle-class Australian voter” – really? Are we back to the ‘deplorables’ comment that lost Hilary the White House? People are people. We are all broken. We are all selfish in our own way. And we are all mediocre to some extent, yet we are all also unique with great gifts and talents. Can we celebrate each others strengths instead? Those people, due to no fault of their own, that have been locked into mortgage stress, presented with McMansions with no other options to purchase, are told incessantly that these things along with huge flat screen TV’s and Iphones will actually make them happy, are a product of the neo-conservative system that has inexhorbitantly ground us down over the last 4 decades. It did not happen overnight. And once you are in it, with all its glitz and promises, with a failed educational system that does not teach us to question, no ethical or religious teaching that values discernment and wisdom, and a growth mantra that tells us that civilization as we know it will collapse if we don’t buy more stuff, well, what do you expect? I think those (like myself) that are grieving this election loss should ask themselves: Do I know my neighbour? Have I baked them some biscuits and introduced myself? Have I organised a street BBQ? Invited them round for a cuppa? Offered to ride share with them? Have I thought about, when selling my home, only selling it for what I bought it for? Have I given food to my neighbours from my garden? Have I made my home climate proof? Do I have a fruit tree I can share fruit from? Have I changed my bank account away from the big 4? Have I changed my Super to an ethical super company? Did I not upgrade my smart phone/computer/ipad because I care for those dying in the mines the minerals that they contain come from? Did I catch public transport last week? Do I have solar panels on my home or am I fighting for a community solar farm? etc. If you can answer ‘yes’ to all these questions, and only only if, then you can mourn the election outcome and critique the ‘other’. What we need at present is a serious narrative that gives a positive picture of the alternative to neo-conservativism. A way to transform from here to the new plan that puts a safety net under those affected. Yes, the middle class are wealthy and privileged. But in Australia so is the guy sleeping in Hyde Park compared to a village kid in Kenya, or a mother and child fleeing Syria. These comparisons/judgements are useless. Lets put together a real alternative, not just tinkering here and there. A big picture alternative with details costed and ways to alleviate suffering and sell it to the Australian public day in and day out over the next 3 years. Then Australia might have a chance. (See http://evonomics.com/economic-ideas-change-the-world-keynes-hayek-friedman-reagan/?fbclid=IwAR1FUVTWkJnON7cIT2weTJdkgWQWLgo7V3qQ8i1RsfbmPJq3NP9uvEHg2Ek – how the neo-cons managed it) .

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  3. I find myself mourning and in deeper sadness than ever before with the result of this election.Not just because Labor lost or great opportunities have gone begging,nor that it was really time for a real change back to a level of fairness and equality that has not been seen since pre 2013,no,what I’m feeling is pure grief for what used to be a great country,now bitterly divided and racing towards having NO CHANCE of halting the climate damage already done which is way beyond a “safe” level already.I feel this poor country will now be damaged way too much to return from after the next three years.Greed,selfishness and total uncaring is now the currency of this place we used to love and be proud to call home.

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  4. What a self absorbed vapid selfish nation we live in. They did not have to get a McMansion, they did NOT have to get a SUV. Slaving day in and day out to pay off debts and buy things that they don’t need to impress people they don’t like. Its NOT hard to pull yourself away from the TV and do some freaking research. Love the article Drew.

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    1. See my comment above. We are all trapped in this neo-liberalism crap and we are all selfish. So we need to find a way to reach through the lies and promises. Let’s all start with a cuppa with our neighbours. It’s simple but can have huge positive ramifications. Judging people will not help.

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  5. We lost as a country the chance to become that caring nation we once were again, we lost the chance to set the records straight, that as a nation we cared for each other we cared that the family next door lost their job and needed a hand. Now if that happens the immediate question is what did they do wrong, i hope they dont come knocking on my door i would hate to have to turn them away but you cant encourage them.
    Those that voted this government back in voted to increase the suffering of those on pensions and unemployment, and that of the refugees still in prison, after all why should they get in with their strange habits and language they dont even speaks english. They are brain dead because they dont take the time to research the policies the people the voting itself they just follow like sheep pick a piece of paper because they have been told that the other parry are bad and will take all their money and vote away the lkves of others people who dont really matter, because they dont come from their circle of friends and of course their friends would never be needy.
    They never weigh up the consiquences of their vote they never think about how that vote will effect the outcome they just know that they will end up with more money on their 2 property, or their franking credits are safe so they can stsy planning that overseas trip. Selfish uncaring ego driven and self absorbed are who these voters are.

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  6. It is written, ‘If you’re not a liberal when you’re young, then you don’t have a heart – but if you haven’t become a conservative when you’re old, then you don’t have a brain’.

    You will understand one day, that the Left turns Right. And when you do, you will wonder what took you so long.

    It is easy to turn a blind eye to injustice, so long as the injustice is not committed against you.

    And if you’re in my situation at an age of 56 with no children, you will see no sense in protecting the world for the future.

    Come on Sonny Jim, jump on board the gravy train.

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    1. The misquote should be “if you are not a socialist at 20 you have no heart, if you are a socialist at 40, you have no money.” I am 67, have money, but I want to live in a happier, more caring society. I do not have children, but I want this sweet and beautiful world continue to become better. I think your comments are cruel and bleak and totally disagree with them.

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  7. Rachel, please don’t allow what has happened lead you to despair. Have a cuppa with your neighbour. Plant a lemon tree. Do some guerilla gardening. Are you an artist? Start a small art group in your home. A book club. Just little steps into the community. Spreading good things. Although it can be problematic, I have joined the http://www.nextdoor.com group for my area to gradually encourage community. Let’s build from the ground up.

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  8. Bill Shorten called these people you are writing about “knuckle draggers” and Chris Bowen said “if you do not like our tax policies don’t vote for us”. Tanya Plibersek with 4 houses called pensioners who did not want change “greedy”.
    Exactly the same as the Hillary Clinton “Deplorables” comment. Suicidal and for what point?
    Abusing people for being racist or selfish or ignorant will only get their backs up. It will not help you gain any support or strengthen your present following.
    Attack Morrison or Trump but do not attack their supporters. Ditto for vegan attacks on farmers or climate convoy to North Queensland. It just stoked fear and resentment and did not help the cause.

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  9. This is the most pathetic article I have ever read and I have read plenty!!
    So condescending and immature not to mention disgraceful. It completely missed the point. One of the major reasons that Labor was annihilated in this election is because of their tragic values which align so closely with the dangerous Greens. There was a very strong vote against Labor by discerning and intelligent Christians from all walks of life….not just middle class.
    You are just sore losers!!

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    1. The “dangerous greens” want to save the planet and the LNP are climate claim deniers who are puppets to miners and the wealthy so if it’s a choice between the two I’ll go go for the save the planet option please! Our coal fondling PM is pretending to give a shit about the environment and he doesn’t! The ALP lost because of an extremely biased Murdoch press supported by an extreme scare campaign which unfortunately the vast majority of swinging, uninformed, inward looking voters were sucked in by and let’s not forget Clive Palmers 60m big spend! The forces of the right were simply too overwhelming for Labor to win. End of story. Goodbye democracy, fairness and good policy. The ignorance of the masses and the right wings ability to tap into was the defining factor which swayed this election.

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