We are at a crossroads. The Ultra High Net Worth Individual (UHNWI) class is creating a new international feudal order, assisted by the professional enabler class including politicians in pursuit of their money. One of those enabling mechanisms is the media. In Australia, News Corp serves as the strongest weapon in the creation of their desired world.
Oliver Bullough’s Moneyland spells out the power the UHNWI class has to shape nations to their needs as they passport shop for the most desirable conditions. They rob their nations of the funds required for stability, and corrupt the lands where their money settles. The myth of meritocracy gives scope to syphon off the best of the lower orders and stifle disruptive urges. Lawyers, accountants, politicians, all can become wealthy catering to the needs of the UHNWI set.
For perspective, Donald Trump belongs to the enabler class. His money-laundering property deals provided a service to the kleptocrats determined to protect their astronomic wealth for heredity.
Since the neoliberal propaganda about ultra free markets as the ultimate tool of general well-being took hold in the 80s, USD7 trillion has been funnelled from the masses to the ultra rich.
The Liberal Party in Australia (like its “conservative” fellows around the west) has been hollowed out by the zombie economics and the culture war games that replaced belief in the government and some degree of justice. The Labor Party continues to try to balance the needs of the paymasters with the broader wellbeing. Neither party is fit for purpose in fighting the climate crisis that the ultra rich have inflicted upon us by deciding to abandon the initial impetus to innovate out of the threat.
News Corp serves to boil frogs. As in that metaphor, their audiences are lulled to ignore the threats of climate, the rise of a violent far right and theocrats until it’s too late. The audience is also made to boil with anger and resentment at groups they are taught to fear as threatening their comfort. There are two current targets: First Nations Australians through the demonisation of the Voice to Parliament, and the “woke” with particular hatred deployed against LGBTQI+ people.
The news orgy of mourning over Cardinal George Pell and Jim Molan are emblematic of this culture war tribalism. Few Catholic clerics would have received the thousands of words of eulogy from the Australian establishment that have decorated Pell in the last week. It is likely that had he not been a target of progressive wrath, he would have followed the usual quiet trajectory of the Catholic departed. David Marr argues that Catholicism has received greater weight in recent years, compared to the decades of déclassé embarrassment, because the radical right sees it as one of the great unifiers and defenders of the superior western tradition.
Jim Molan is depicted as the ultimate patriot warrior of the kind the right worships. The coverage elides the bigotry and culture war nature of his political contribution as a senator, because that is the kind of head kicking the right demands. The allegations of war crimes in three Iraqi cities, and his alleged nickname The Butcher of Fallujah, are naturally omitted. Partly because, levelled at a western soldier, they have not been investigated adequately but because, as with Pell, his victims are not worthy of attention.
The poor, non-whites, non-Christians, women, refugees, LGBTQI+. As victims, they are utterly disposable. As Premier Dan Andrews pointed out, the Church moved predator priests from working class parish to working class parish. The children they preyed upon were not worthy of Pell’s interest. Nor are they worthy of News Corps.’
Molan used Muslim and LGBTQI+ Australians as political tools, but they are justified kills by this right wing reckoning. Iraqi targets are worthy only of a shrug, even if they were, allegedly, civilians. MeToo was a poison for the right because women’s pain is not important compared to men’s. The climate crisis is negligible, by their accounting, because those who suffer most will be the poor.
To distract from the unwinding of the democratic project, the tools of the oligarchs practise divide and conquer. A category of human is sacrificed as disposable to the baying of the enraged base. Jewish people remain a target. Trans people are the first of the LGBTQI+ community to be placed in the firing line.
Australia joined the world in depicting Muslims as a threat, using that excuse to inflict abominable harm on people who came to us seeking safety. Canadian organisations say refugees coming from Australia are the most damaged people they’ve assisted, compared to people fleeing every human hell. A video is circulating social media of a man who was sent from our off-shore prisons to the US. He came to us for help fully functioning. Now he lives homeless on American streets, his brain shattered by our cruelty. Molan was co-author of this horrific program.
Rupert Murdoch intends that Australia is especially susceptible to this propaganda, with his dominance of our media. His organs control the message delivered to the radicalising right. This base believes their sort has lost the battle for control of our fate because of some progressive academics, and cynical corporations placing Pride flags on their social media accounts. (These tokens of justice are mere pacifiers to egalitarians as our project of a fairer world burns.)
Murdoch’s writers lull us into seeing shattered norms as normal. Adam Creighton depicted the takeover of the US Congressional House by the conspiracy-beholden, christofascist Republican fringe as a better form of democracy. Victorian Liberal MP Matthew Bach churns out optimistic columns on our future; it’s easy to see the world as promising when you belong to the enabler class.
The poor will be killed and displaced in, at least, their millions in the decades to come, echoing and expanding 2022’s Pakistan floods. For the UNWHI class and many of their enablers, these people are utterly disposable. It’s easy for Nick Cater to celebrate the power of fossil fuels in granting air-conditioning to mitigate the pain of lethal wet bulb temperatures. Most won’t have that mechanical luxury as their worlds disintegrate. The disempowered in our own nations will lose their homes and lives; they will be distracted with flames fanned to hate the “woke,” the Queer, the Other.
We must each decide whether we are willing to be lulled and boiled. Will we allow the kleptocrats and enabler classes to target our fellow citizens or people in foreign disasters as disposable? Will we fall into internecine bloodshed as America is, killing the demonised, or will we confront the ultra rich with their crimes?
It will take international cooperation to constrain the UHNWI class. Within our own nations, we must decide if we will continue to allow their enablers to assist the plutocrats in hiding away our common wealth. Accountants, lawyers, politicians, the corporate media: they are targets we can constrain if we commit.
This was first published in Pearls and Irritations as The ultra high net worth individual’s strongest weapon: News Corp
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