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Conservatives and Social Engineering

Social engineering is something that all political parties practice. Left-leaning progressive parties view change as a vibrant way of engineering society for the common good. To introduce a National Health Service with good research followed up with good legislation is one example of good social engineering.

Conservative parties view it as a means of changing society to fit their own ideology.

To introduce changes in university courses and fees so as to produce more workers without looking at the social consequences for humanities courses is bad social engineering. We need thinkers as well as workers.

In the complexity of what a society is we are apt to find many pieces that make up the puzzle.

Social engineering exists within “the Psychology of Politics.” That means that persuading people to think as you do is an important part of any democracy provided you are not being manipulated, lied to or fed propaganda.

I have seen many governments come and go in my lifetime. All incoming governments naturally implement their policies within the constraints that exist within the two Australian Houses of Parliament.

In 2013 I wrote a piece titled “The Abbott form of Social Engineering.” Not long after he had become Prime Minister it became apparent that he and his government had embarked on a conservative form of social engineering.

It was based on the aforementioned tactics of manipulation, lies, propaganda and hidden persuaders.

At the time I received a fair bit of flack for my views so I followed up with some quotes to put them in context.

It is said that American economist, Milton Friedman:

In one of his most influential essays, (Milton) Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as “the shock doctrine.” He observed that: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change.” [Which of course is a variation on Machiavelli’s advice that “injuries” should be inflicted “all at once” – Naomi Klein, “Shock Doctrine”].

In other words, manufacture a sense of crisis and you can get away with anything starting with maximum harm. Therefore, Conservative’s manufacture crisis at every opportunity.

Let’s look at what others have said…

Margaret Thatcher (paraphrased):

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich.”

Abraham Lincoln:

“Labor came before capital and is not related to it. Capital is what’s acquired from labour, and would never have come about if it were not for labour. Therefore, labour is superior to capital and deserves the higher significance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt:

They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers … call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.”

Before addressing the issue of Social Engineering I should say exactly what I think a Government should be regardless of its ideology.

Good government is about making and implementing decisions that serve the common good. That give security to the people it governs. Follows the rule of law and is truthful about its intentions.

When making decisions it must be responsive to the will of the people. It should allow its citizens to be participatory in the function of government.

It should be inclusive, equitable and supportive of the people’s right to know. By equity I mean the people have a right to a fair reward for the fruits of their labour.

And above all, it should be answerable to the people.

What is Social (political) Engineering?

Social engineering is a means of implementing ideas and principles relative to your party’s philosophy.

Sometimes, however, it is politically expedient to forgo your beliefs when certain policies become entrenched in the countries way of life. Our health system and the NDIS are but two examples.

It is when a political party seeks to use selective deceptive, manipulative and insidious psychological techniques to influence and bring about a change in the attitudes of masses of people to its point of view.

If you look at the society we had when Tony Abbott came to power and compare it with today you could not deny that it is less free, FOIs are more difficult to procure, press freedoms have declined, we are more open to corruption, and police intervention in our daily lives has increased.

Older folk are treated abysmally as are women generally. The treatment of asylum seekers and our Indigenous folk have gotten worse.

Our economic attitude toward the wealthy be they corporate or individual has resulted in the rich getting increased handouts and subsidies

Abbott’s social engineering 2014 Budget was labelled the most unfair ever. Cuts to services such as welfare, education and health copped most of the budget pain.

Billions in funding were also slashed from international aid, health, and education. Alongside cuts to family benefits, these were all designed to change the societal structures of how we live.

My problem with the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments is that they all embarked on a program that was ideologically targeted at changing the way we think – for all the wrong reasons. Think climate change, for instance.

This is social engineering at its worst and the current proposal for changes to university entry is a typical example of reasoning gone wrong.

Conservatives seek to create a crisis even when none exists.

There is a debt crisis … while adding to it. Or a rise in Islam immigration, or boats. Last week it was the Chinese attacking our internet security.

It’s a deliberate tactic of social engineering.

Create an illusion of disaster and people will believe that perception is in fact reality. (COVID-19 and climate change aside, of course.)

Conservatives appeal to the base instincts of ordinary people and the racists.

I have the view that a form of serfdom is running through the Morrison government’s work.

The disparagement of science (COVID-19 excepted) has been peculiar to the three governments.

In the area of communications, we have a concerted attempt to eliminate the reasoned voice of opposing views. The dual attack on the ABC by the Murdoch empire and the government is an attempt to stifle debate.

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

When a government condemns a perceived bias of one outlet without acknowledging the bias of another it is practising social engineering

Lying, of course, is the social engineer’s most effective tool. Throughout his career, Tony Abbott used it most effectively.

Malcolm Turnbull was hypocritical on climate change and Morrison has taken lying to another level.

Another tool of social engineering is secrecy, and the Conservative governments have has displayed a propensity for it. It’s called lying by omission.

We also see social engineering in communication policy.

The best NBN is now effectively only for those who can afford it. They have become information-rich and those who cannot have become information poor.

All of these things contribute to how we think act and feel. By manipulating society into thinking that the entire realm and ownership of knowledge is found in one ideology, one individual or cohort of individuals is a form of social engineering.

By influencing society into believing that if the rich become richer their lot will advance at the same rate, conservatives see their social engineering as a success.

As I said at the beginning, all forms of government, corporations, institutions, and religious groups, even the advertising industry practice social engineering.

Not to mention the lop-sided social engineering that stems from a biased media in Australia.

Questions of ethics, values and law arise because it can be used for good or evil.

At one end of the scale is power and societal control, whilst at the other is a desire to be virtuous.

All that the common good be served.

My thought for the day

Perhaps a greater understanding of what I am saying might be obtained by willingly exercising a greater desire to think more deeply.

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12 comments

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  1. Pamela

    Great article for weekend reflection- reminding us of truths we know.

  2. wam

    Selamat pagi, lord, just off to the pool to cogitate on your words.
    A good giggle in the cool pool. :
    Create an illusion of disaster and people will believe that perception is in fact reality. (COVID-19 and climate change aside, of course.)
    You are close to understanding the impact of boobby’s timing of the harridan caravan that was an influence in the fact that we have many tears from smirko’s antics to go.
    poor old maggie gets a ‘paraphrase’ you should overcomee you bias and read the speech in context with the open mind you wish conservatives had?
    Was there any selective avoidance in your causerie, today?

  3. John Lord

    A Wam. I have read her speech a couple of times.

    B Not any that come to mind.

  4. Terence Mills

    I wondered why Morrison would allow his Education Minister to embark on this social engineering of our universities and the study options of the next generation, at a time when government borrowing had reached unprecedented levels.

    Well, you have to do some burrowing down into what Tehan announced but it’s all there in the small print that wasn’t covered in the media interviews. Tehan said this :

    minister Tehan said he planned to reduce the Commonwealth’s overall financial contribution to university degrees from 58 per cent to 52 per cent and lift student contributions (i.e. fees) from 42 per cent to 48 per cent.

    That he planned to increase the number of university places by 39,000 within three years, at no cost to the Government — so the cost of the extra places would be borne by student fees.

    So, whilst much has been made of Tehan’s ideological approach to higher education, careers and jobs the fundamental objective appears to have been to cut government outlays and increase student debt !

  5. wam

    In light of your thought you might try Samuel Brittan April 19 2013 in the financial times.
    Does Moselmane not fit the theme with his conservative abortion vote and his apparent overseas engineering or has he been engineered?

  6. Matters Not

    Re:

    We need thinkers as well as workers.

    Perhaps it’s possible to have both within the same being? You know – workers who are also thinkers. Two for the price of one. Certainly it’s desirable – and if it’s not achievable then there’s a whole bunch of Marxists who wasted much of their lives. Take Antonio Gramsci as an apposite example. Well known for claiming:

    all men are intellectuals but not all men have in society the function of intellectuals.

    He clarifies this by explaining that “everyone at some time fries a couple of eggs or sews up a tear in a jacket, we do not necessarily say that everyone is a cook or a tailor”. Gramsci maintained that the notion of intellectuals as being a distinct social category independent of class was a myth. The idea that ‘work’ should be divorced from ‘thinking’ is anathema. Indeed – at the heart of the alienation concept.

    More here.

    https://infed.org/mobi/antonio-gramsci-schooling-and-education/

  7. ajogrady

    All that is rotten and dysfunctional in Australia can be laid squarely at the feet of John Howard. Although conservatives have always been cruel and corrupt parasites never giving a sucker an even break. And Australia is full of gullible suckers easily bought for a few pieces of silver as many elections have proven. I truly wonder where Australia would be if conservatives had not impeded progress to advantage the few.

  8. Phil

    Thinkers ah Conservatives. How I love them, let me count the ways. The book burners.

    A discussion about feminism for Tories would run along the lines of, what length of chain to use on the good wife tied to the sink.

    Deep thoughts of…….. What to put in the Xmas stockings for the servants this year. Does Lizzy take one or two lumps of sugar in her morning coffee.

    I punched a Conservative in the lamps years ago, he told me among other insults, classical music for the working class, was like giving strawberries to pigs. I felt a euphoria when I donged him, I should imagine but having never used the shyte, it was like a shot of heroin. I felt all of this pent up emotion leaving my body. It’s a working class thing.

    As the great comedian and master communicator George Carlin said. Just educate the working class enough to run the machines and do the paper work.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-14SllPPLxY&t=35s

  9. paul walter

    Joyless times.

  10. Kerri

    Abbott truly was the turning point. Ill mannered, misogynistic, ruthless and elevated well beyond his talents.
    Julia Gillard tried hard to bring back some decorum but Abbott was born a pk and will die a pk, and not soon enough.
    I would not relieve myself on him if he were on fire.

  11. Jack Cade

    Kerri.

    They never go away. The ‘Mincing Poodle’ is in the Adelaide Advertiser or Sunday Mail constantly, and Julie Bishop appears to have been featured in today’s edition, possibly lamenting the need for her to pay for her own transport to liaisons nowadays. She is, as you may or may not know, a native of a quite nice town in the Adelaide Hinterland.

  12. andy56

    Its ideology at work. They see the world though $20 sunnies from the servo. It assumes a 17th century protestant mythology that we all aspire to. The end result is achieved through whatever means necessary, no matter how ruthless. Its exactly the same as any other totalitarian regime. We are allowed the illusion of freedom. We are allowed the illusion of thought. Honestly, we have deteriorated in so many ways , its hard to see any change without a catalyst. Maybe, the covid 19 is just the vector we need.

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