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Lessons from the USA about patriotic beat-ups

As Australia approaches that time in January again, we see the unedifying picture of Peter Dutton’s team driving his post-referendum Base into a flag-waving orgy of aggrieved patriotism. He has decided to conduct an attack on Woolworths over a commercial decision that Australia Day merchandise was not popular. Dutton is whipping up the contingent which believes that a No victory meant First People must become invisible, hoping a bigot vote will be enough to win the next election.

Similarly in the USA, compulsory patriotism is part of the Atlas Network’s plan to control the future of America through directing the next administration.

One of the flagship junktanks of the Atlas Network is the Heritage Foundation. It is an influence machine for the radical Right in America. It was co-founded by Paul Weyrich in 1971. The religious right-wing political space lost momentum when fighting school desegregation became untenable: racism could no longer be the (overt) driving force of Evangelical Christians’ political mission. Weyrich was the figure who steered a selected group of right-wing men in the late 70s to select abortion instead of prayer in school to be the issue to galvanise the Christian Right into a political force. The Moral Majority was the result. The Trump Republican Party is its offspring.

Heritage has helped “staff and set the agenda for every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan.” And in the new project, it has brought together what it describes as a “massive coalition of conservative organisations” from both within the Atlas Network and the Christian Nationalist architectures of influence.

Heritage is now led by Dr Kevin Roberts, a Rad Trad Catholic – the sort that despises the current Pope as a socialist and infiltrator. He came to Heritage from the Atlas-partner Texas Public Policy Foundation whose “donors are a Who’s Who of Texas polluters, giant utilities and big insurance companies.” Roberts has been celebrated as the man who would turn Heritage away from adherence solely to ultra-free market goals regardless of cost, towards the National Conservative (Nat Con) project of returning values to the Republican project. These values are Christian Nationalist – frightening for anyone who is not a straight, white, “Christian” man.

Heritage’s Project 2025 or “roadmap” for the first months of the next Republican President’s action has been described thus: “At the heart of this particular document is the installation of a machinery of absolute executive and capitalist power which systematically dismantles democracy and any government protections of the people and the environment all under the guise of reclaiming religious virtue from amoral Marxist wokeism.”

The roadmap is not just a document. It plans to fire 50,000 federal public servants. It has begun recruiting 20,000 people for the new government. It intends to train these recruits in the Nat Con goals of their mission. Applicants are required to give access to their social media and fill out a questionnaire to guarantee their ideological purity. The eliminatory questions (some of which are traps) include, “We should be proud of our American heritage and history, even as we acknowledge our flaws” as a compulsory point. Apparently patriotism is mandatory for employment in this worldview.

This is, however, amongst the less disturbing elements of Roberts’s expression of the project. Roberts’ enemy in his preface, “A promise to America,” is “The Great Awokening,” depicting social justice, secularism and empirical evidence-based policy as a blasphemous trap. He is determined to rescue “the very moral foundations of our society,” imperilled by centralised government. The words “woke” and “elites” throb like drumbeats throughout his preface, signalling the populist distraction that his plutocrat donors demand – to steer focus away from them.

His four goals are to restore the “family as the centrepiece of American life and protect our children”; to dismantle the administrative state; to defend borders; to secure “our God-given individual rights to live freely.”

Placing the family at the core has various ramifications. It is partly a battle cry to eliminate Queerness and return women to home and breeding, submissive to husband. It is partly racist. It is inherently connected to the dismantling of all safety nets, replaced by family and community charity. It is also connected to the radical right goal to dismantle the public education system, with the preliminary step of allowing a minority of radical parents to control what all students are allowed to be taught in schools.

Roberts insists that Project 2025 drives “policymakers to elevate family authority, formation, and cohesion as their top priority and even use government power, including through the tax code, to restore the American family.” He demands all words related to diversity or inclusiveness must be deleted from every federal document. Anyone producing or distributing material that acknowledges Queer existence – which he depicts as pornography – should be imprisoned and “Educators and public librarians who purvey it should be classed as registered sex offenders. And telecommunications and technology firms that facilitate its spread should be shuttered.”

He declares that the Dobbs decision removing protections for reproductive rights is “just the beginning.” The next President must make removing reproductive rights a national commitment. The Mandate also promotes greater pregnancy surveillance.

Roberts portrays environmental protection including climate action as “extremism” and “anti human.” It is “not a political cause, but a pseudo-religion meant to baptize liberals’ ruthless pursuit of absolute power in the holy water of environmental virtue.”

Australians watching our government’s subservience to the American war machine should take note: “The next conservative President must end the Left’s social experimentation with the military, restore warfighting as its sole mission, and set defeating the threat of the Chinese Communist Party as its highest priority” as well as promoting the building of new nuclear weapons.

The current US government he depicts as the monolithic left, “socialism—Communism, Marxism, progressivism, Fascism, whatever name it chooses,” which must be defeated to return whatever he defines as “liberty” to the American people.

The Roadmap is written by hundreds of “conservative” thinkers, but far more concerning is how many of the contributors were senior in Trump’s last administration. Whether it is Trump or some other candidate, these activists intend rapid, concerted action to destroy the administrative state, with the lavish use of executive action from the White House to sideline any congressional constraints.

Heritage has released such a Mandate for the last 40 years but it crowed with delight about the way that Trump embraced their guide when he took power, implementing 2/3 of their recommendations in his first year. Australians could see this as an echo of the (Atlas-partner) Institute of Public Affair’s (IPA) notorious “wishlist” that did so much to shape Tony Abbott’s government in contravention of its election promises.

With the election of Javier Milei in Argentina, Atlas has won their man a pivotal role in that nation’s future, as Dr Jeremy Walker indicated. He plans to sell off Argentina’s assets to predatory global capitalists, and Argentinians are already feeling the pain of price hikes. George Monbiot has recently acknowledged the Tufton St junktanks that have driven Britain into misery belong to the Atlas Network. At the same time, Australia’s prospective future leader appeared in pink hi-vis to pay obeisance to Gina Rinehart, primary funder of the IPA.

Little in Roberts’s preface to the Mandate will surprise Sky News Australia viewers. This kind of rhetoric is at the heart of the world Atlas aims to create: no restraints for fossil fuel but many restraints for the irritating (and immoral) masses.

Fostering aggrieved patriotism is a core right-wing gambit, and we should recognise it when Dutton applies his lighter to that fire in the next fortnight: it is part of a grim package.

 

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14 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    This extract: “Heritage’s Project 2025 or “roadmap” for the first months of the next Republican President’s action has been described thus: “At the heart of this particular document is the installation of a machinery of absolute executive and capitalist power which systematically dismantles democracy and any government protections of the people and the environment all under the guise of reclaiming religious virtue from amoral Marxist wokeism.” sounds remarkably similar to the practices within the German National Socialist Party 1923 to 1945.
    .
    Houston … we have a problem!!!

  2. Andrew Smith

    NEC: I don’t think similarities with German National Socialists are a coincidence, unfortunately….

    Good article, think some in Australia are slowly waking up….and seeing the imported ‘architecture of influence’ more clearly, but who is manipulating whom? Thankfully we lack the significant and crazy conservative &/or Evangelical Christian cult or movement acting as the Trump or GOP base, intimidating their own side…

    Another coincidence with Heritage, is former PM, UK Trade Advisor and Fox Board member esteemed and honourable Tony Abbott who has presented at Heritage, as have many GOP, UK Tories and Hungarians recently, *close to Orban’s regime liaising with GOP House types at Heritage to oppose Ukraine funding vs Putin’s Russia).

    Abbott’s new employer, is Heritage linked Danube Institute in Budapest as a ‘researcher’ under former Thatcher aide who was wooed by Orban’s people a decade ago, John O’Sullivan, while apparently Abbott’s advisor and former Ambassador to Hungary and EU, Mark Higgie also works there (but for some reason not declared as a foreign agent…..?).

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/why-australia-s-conservatives-are-finding-friends-in-hungary-20190924-p52uim.html

    People have been observing the Danube Institute, no less than Anne Applebaum who used to be well acquainted with O’Sullivan and other UK or US journalists and politicians who seemed to support liberal democracy, but then they went ‘off piste’ to the far right, nativist conservatism, Christianity, ‘family values’, Brexit and Trump; she called them out publicly on Twitter after Putin’s invasion (ouch!).

    More recently, again and this time it was the GOP ‘normie’ (now = Democrat) Bill Kristol on Twitter:

    ‘@BillKristol

    10 Dec 2023

    Heritage Foundation and Viktor Orbán are not simply against aid for Ukraine. They are against Ukraine. They hate Ukraine, because a) they’re pro-Putin, and b) they hate liberal democracy, especially one fighting to defend itself against a brutal dictator.’

    https://x.com/BillKristol/status/1733892421895746022?s=20

    In the US, there is a revolving door between Heritage and other Atlas or Koch Network outfits, and Tanton’s too inc. FAIR Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (locally SPA). Former Heritage staffer Richwine ‘argued that Hispanics and Blacks are intellectually inferior to Whites and have trouble assimilating because of a supposed genetic predisposition to lower IQ’, is now working at Tanton Network’s FAIR….

  3. Cool Pete

    To paraphrase Paul Keating, “If Tone the Botty became Prime Minister, we would have to say, “God help us!”” If Donald Trump became US President again, God Help the World! As Philip Adams said, “Yet they tut-tut about Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.” If Potty Boy Dutton ever became PM of Australia, it would be a dangerous place. And I would be vulnerable!
    I have become like Niklas Frank and don’t completely trust Australians not to elect a Liberal Party Government again.

  4. wam

    A beaut piece, Lucy,
    The rabbottians often use the woke. A word that so frightened the US far right white extremists, that they changed the meaning of it to avoid its stigma.
    The IPA is full of contrived political attempts to make controversy, in our paper, a deputy executive director(a flash name for someone who can follow the instruction from the ipa board) tried his best to suggest that Woollies, who will stock the NT treble of the flags, lamb and a stubbie, are culpable for not stocking the cheap overseas paraphenalia. Surely Nottud, Tlob Dil. W, don’t really support the poor quality merchandise from overseas?
    Sadly, patriotism is the danger to trick labor voters into deserting. If we add the labor idiots who think this weather is climate and vote loonie.
    Just as Iowa confirms Trump will win in Nov, Dutton could be a PM.
    Look out the poor poor then???

  5. Clakka

    Apologies. Laziness dictates me using part of my comment on AIMN Martha Knox-Haley article Strategies for protecting Australian voters against digital disinformation campaigns, with mods.

    In the USofA (and Britain too), corrupted politics buried itself by peddling bling and self-righteousness, as the people immersed themselves in hear-no, see-no, speak-no, until Ronnie Reagan enfranchised the yabber yabber of every multicultural puritanical god as a solution to the world, the universe and everything. So, slowly, but surely, truth has become enslaved by consumerism, xenophobia, denial, exceptionalism and ultimately individualised moronism, to the extent that those that think reasonably and rationally hide out for fear of being mobbed.

    It is now their greatest export to the world.

    It is no small irony that the donor fossil fuelers are fast running out of fossil fuels and liquidity. When they’ve succeeded in blocking renewables, what will they do then, start eating the dead?

    Whilst Old Blighty set the scene in Oz, it has allowed itself to be assailed by Uncle Sam. As the wild horses set in, and global economic collapse and chaos ensue, whether Oz can save itself from dirty words, Dutton, the mindless LNP and social media and Murdoch is an understandable, but kinda weird question.

    As the death cult prevails, we can’t all be physicists, nevertheless, I’d have thought the constraints set by Mother Nature are looking to beat us all to the punch. And it’s also kinda weird that politicians carry on believing they ought not elaborate for fear of scaring the horses.

    MAGA; ha ha ha haaaar – forever a filthy battlefield. Now hoist by its own petard. Fired by greed, perpetually bamboozled and askance, it scrapes the gutters as it flushes itself and the world down the gurgler. Dutton, the LNP and its flunkies might be hoping to be flushed with success, news for them, it’s just a pipe dream, as the realities increasingly stare us in the face.

  6. andyfiftysix

    look , the american comparisons is a bit of a stretch. Sure Dutton is trying it on, but as Labor have ignored the whole decent into hell, dutton comes off looking like a try hard. Even today we had news that libs have been putting adds on FB about their take on history. So who is the dick here?

    In the USA, i have a win win stake. If trump loses, america will stay relatively sane. If trump wins, i want to see the magas go up against the us army with their toy guns. Either way a culling is due. An internal blow up will distract them from foreign interferance.

    This leeds me to think, 30% crazy is a lot better than 45% crazy. The outcomes wont be the same.

  7. Steve Davis

    The right is not the problem, it’s merely a symptom of the problem.

    The problem was explained by Karl Marx in his examination of the false consciousness that is produced in working people by the overwhelming power of the liberal industrial state. Liberalism alienates workers from their work (mere links in a chain) and from their community. Their resulting consciousness is false as it is individualistic rather than collective in nature, it produces a view of oneself as a single entity engaged in competition with others of one’s social and economic group, rather than as part of a group with unified experiences, struggles, and interests.

    But the overwhelming power of the liberal state then evolved another concept that extended the liberal grip on society, a concept that deepened this false consciousness — cultural hegemony.

    According to Antonio Gramsci, (I’m going from memory here) cultural hegemony exists when a dominated class accepts the values aims and priorities of the dominant class as being valid and legitimate, worth fighting and dying for (sound familiar?) even though those values aims and priorities might be harmful to their interests. So what we see now with the growing popularity of right wing thinking is that people are becoming awake to the dangers to themselves of the aims of the dominant class.
    With colonialism gone, with it’s replacement neo-colonialism staggering, the dominant class has begun to feed off its host by way of stagnating wages, high unemployment and cuts to services. The victims of this process will continue to struggle until circumstances force a re-evaluation of their position, force a re-emergence of class consciousness and an appreciation of the power of unified action.

    The best way to beat the right is to work towards a genuine awakening of class consciousness. Those that cling to a sentimental attachment to liberal pipe dreams will slow that process and assist the Right.

  8. Steve Davis

    Perhaps it’s my imagination, but I get the feeling that when the name Karl Marx crops up, left-leaning people of good-will shy off, not willing to enter a discussion where they might be entangled in complex political theory or worse still, be branded a Marxist.

    Anyone thinking that way can take comfort from a declaration from Marx himself — “One thing is certain, it is that I am not a Marxist.” This was a rebuke to French Marxists who were misinterpreting his work. If followers of Marx were prone to error, it’s not hard to imagine how simple it has been for defenders of liberalism, wealth, and privilege to distort and diminish his critique of liberalism.

    Marx was not infallible, but his examination of the rising liberal industrial state was so insightful and penetrating that any attempt to understand global politics today is futile without a basic awareness of his work.

    Good places to start are;
    Marx — A Very Short Introduction, by Peter Singer
    Why Marx was Right, by Terry Eagleton.

  9. Phil Pryor

    S Davis, do add older works.., including Marx on Economics, R Freedman, Pelican, G. B, 1962. Many other general books, by Bertrand Russell and by Prof. D. W. Hamlyn, both general histories of western philosophy, are useful. There are the Mentor and Pocket Library series on philosophy, long ago, (1950’s) and very good. Add Will Durant for lively comment. Your advice is sensible, and I’m not a “Marxist.” (I’m not anything much, by devoted dogma)

  10. Steve Davis

    Thanks for the additions Phil.

    And your implied advice about not getting stuck to dogma is sensible also.

  11. Phil Pryor

    Steve, dogma may be for dogs, so avoid dogma, catma, any type of -ma. Superstitious dogma is killing civilisation…

  12. Steve Davis

    But kar-ma Phil, cannot be avoided. 🙂

  13. Phil Pryor

    Get out of ‘ere…

  14. Steve Davis

    There’s an article in the Guardian today by George Monbiot that’s written in a very similar vein to Lucy’s here.

    He points out problems we’ve discussed here previously, in the context of farmers’ protests in Germany and the US, being exploited by the Right.

    “As they did a century ago, these (right-wing) political movements exploit genuine crises: the accumulation of wealth by the few and impoverishment of the many, the erosion of workers’ rights and the stagnation of wages, public austerity and the multiple failures of public provision, the restriction of political choice as major parties cluster round neoliberalism, the destruction of small businesses – including small farms – by large ones, the environmental disasters now hammering many communities. They then use these crises as weapons against the very people seeking to address them: leftwing and environmental parties and protest movements.”

    But amazingly, after stating the source of all these problems — the inequities that form the heart and soul of our financial system — he concludes “It’s also troubling to see how few people in the 2020s are prepared to confront the far right’s new agrarian populism.”

    His conclusion should have been “It’s also troubling to see how few people in the 2020s are prepared to confront the financial system that entrenches poverty, that enforces austerity on the poor while subsidising the wealthy.”

    We have to ask ourselves why it is that across the globe the Left is dithering, is unable to grasp the essence of the issues that plague us.

    The Left has no insight, no conviction, no sense of purpose, no philosophical foundation because of reasons that were explained at length by Karl Marx. We can safely put to one side everything Marx wrote as an advocate for communism. That was not his most important work. It’s up to the people of the time to set up their social structures according to the circumstances of the time. His most important work was his analysis of the liberal industrial state.

    The liberal state operates to atomise society, to separate us, to alienate us from our work and from our community. To weaken us. Our perception that we operate in society as individuals is false; it is a denial of our evolutionary history. We are and always were, social beings. Our sociality protected us and facilitated our technological progress.

    Monbiot calls on us to learn from history, to take note of the consequences of the rise of the Right in the past. But his lesson for us, to confront the Right, is the wrong lesson. To confront the Right with no proposal or plan for action is futile. It illustrates the lack of direction that characterises the Left. So confused and lost is Monbiot, that after explaining how the farmers’ protests have been exploited by the Right, he attacked the farmers’ credibility with “there seems to be a moral forcefield surrounding farmers’ protests, defending them from criticism.”

    Instead of calling on us to join with victims of the system to confront the system, instead of urging us to see our unity as a class with them, our shared economic and political interests and the power inherent in our numbers, he calls on us to waste resources fighting a peripheral danger.

    It’s time we got back to basics.

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