Restoration Watch: Australia Edition

Edwin Dyga, author of the forthcoming “Anarcho-Tyranny – Here and There” in the December issue of Chronicles magazine, has written about the state of conservative politics in the Anglosphere. It’s published in Quadrant, one of Australia’s leading culture/opinion periodicals.

He’s also the head of Sydney Trads, and Australian editor of the Quarterly Review.

The passage which will probably be of most interest to you is this, which discusses the only opening the right finds itself, having found its principles outside the acceptable boundaries of speech:

It does not take a stretch of the imagination to understand why establishment conservatism has largely lost the Culture Wars, even if it does not (or refuses to) realise it. Indeed, it is perhaps this defeat which feeds the lack of faith and dampens the assertiveness of conservatives in modern political discourse. Moreover, the evident lack of faith may be interpreted as a collective subconscious admission of ultimate failure in the face of an energised opponent’s incessant agitation in the cultural arena. There being no effective voice of opposition to leftist advance, the electoral centre drifts towards the point of greatest gravitational pull: progressivism. Thus, as the “mainstream” parties of the centre-right court electoral support among this ever-leftward-shifting political centre, those who do not accept the inevitability of the progressive worldview withdraw into the periphery, and as is often the case, radicalise on their journey. Yesteryear’s honest conservative becomes today’s “reactionary” almost by default. As a result, much of what passes for robust and principled opposition to cultural Marxism today seems to come from outside the political establishment: the Sidestream.

Dyga reinforces this point with quotes that could be taken from the NRx boilerplate critique:

“Remember how conservatives use to laugh at and rail at political correctness?” asked US conservative activist Elizabeth Wright in September 2010. “Now, they’re the ones who don’t want to be depicted as ‘incorrect’.”[1] Such a mindset renders an authentic conservatism largely impossible—that is, a conservatism driven by principle, not merely an attitude to preserve the status quo by streamlining the achievements of yesteryear’s radical vanguard. Indeed, the “establicon” boast at being the most competent at managerial efficiency and fiscal economism actually underscores its fundamental incompetence at reversing the leftist advance in the cultural arena. This of course makes the mainstream “Right” no less an obstacle to halting leftist advance than the official leftists they purportedly oppose. As Fabian Tassano comments in Mediocracy (2006):

The true test of an ideology’s hegemony is the degree to which its enemies feel they can criticise it only on its terms, or oppose it only by relinquishing their original principles. In this way, mediocracy’s would-be opponents become implicit defenders of the status quo.

The shape of the critique is probably familiar because Dyga’s been reading the same authors that you probably have:

This is particularly true among the young members of what is sometimes also referred to as the “Orthosphere” (perhaps best exemplified by the work of James Kalb[3]) or the “Neo Reactionary” movement (chiefly popularised by the work of Curtis Yarvin[4]). Their critique has gone beyond that of paleoconservatives, who see the contest within the political establishment as a battle between two wings of liberalism: laissez faire, globalist neo-liberalism on the nominal Right and statist, neo-Marxist social democracy on the Left, both of which paleoconservatives view as corrosive to traditional society and the complex identities and liberties of its constituents.[5] Neo-reactionaries of the Orthosphere broadly agree with this assessment, however they seem to be forming a critique of modern liberalism that is both oppositional to the status quo as much as it also affirms a positive worldview centred on notions of traditional identity. Some of these notions involve a regionalist local patriotism and the celebration of men and women as distinct, complementary sexes. This “identitarian” view is favoured over the abstract universalism of utopian “one-worlders” who see everything traditionalists value as mere “social constructs” to be bureaucratically redesigned at will.

I have almost no Australian readers, and I’ve only spent a single summer there as a youth, so I’m not personally familiar enough with what’s going on down there — not nearly as informed as I am about the development of UKIP in the UK. Dyga writes about Cory Bernardi as an Australian politician who is unusual in that he “[addresses] the issue of sex and gender from an explicitly non-feminist position,” which would be nearly unimaginable in America, even among the people who would be considered religious fundamentalists.

Even Evola, Jack Donovan, Guillaume Faye, and Rollo Tomassi gets mentions. There’s something for everyone in this one.

The author gives a particularly fair shake to the ethno-nationalist strain that you wouldn’t expect from a mainline journal:

For the domestic policy analyst, the result of this liberal hypocrisy should be obvious: a “society” where certain groups are permitted strong identitarian attitudes but do not necessarily share in the historical legacies of the host, and a host which is effectively subordinated and deracinated of any sense of unique corporate personality.

Is Australia on a better course than we’ve given it credit for previously?

I even like how kangaroos taste and would eat a koala if it was served to me. Rugby is also obviously a more masculine game than American football, in the latter’s obsession with absurd plastic armor and finicky rules.

Dygra closes with this relevant nugget:

The success of the Sidestream, whether it’s the US Tea Party, reactionary political groups in Europe, or the general growth of the online orthosphere, is fed by mainstream conservatism’s refusal to address certain controversies for fear of offending modern politically correct sensibilities.

This is mostly true. In America, due to the particularity of our party system, it’s not possible for democracy to staunch the bleeding properly with a UKIP-style party. We have a winner-take-all system that heavily discriminates against alternative parties down to the most local levels of government.

Turning the country ‘purple’ like Nigel Farage is likely to do is not possible in the US.

For this reason, I have more hope for the US than I do for the UK and Australia: our democracy is more brittle, has less historical continuity, and is less capable of responding to rapid changes in public opinion. It’s more likely to fracture.

In the US, we don’t have as stringent speech controls as the rest of the Anglosphere or Europe– that’s out-sourced to the private sector and the roaming mobs of SJWs hunting for people to have thrown out of their jobs.

Where I have to depart with our correspondent in putting hope in politicians:

Economic and fiscal reform may be important, but bean-counting ennui is hardly something that inspires a people. Whether a political movement is a party seeking office or a grass-roots organisation, it needs to inspire not only to survive but to succeed in the market place of ideas. If the Coalition’s base is something more than just a motley collection of anti-Labor interests, if it in fact represents something more than just an alternative style of governance, then politicians like Bernardi should be sought out, their principled opposition to modern liberalism fostered within party ranks, and their vision incorporated as an essential component of tomorrow’s political conservatism. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in their becoming “vehicles for a progressive agenda”, evidence of which can already be witnessed today.

Although it’s perhaps harder to see in parliamentary systems with a great deal of historical continuity, at least in the US, I have to disagree with the correspondent.

In the particular situation of the US, it’s better to bite down, hang on, and prepare for the end of the current political arrangement, which is un-reformable as constituted currently. Our situation is different both quantitatively and qualitatively, even though we share a language and a great deal of history with the UK, Australia, Canada, and the rest of the former colonies. Australia has a population of all of 23 million people, and most of the physical territory is empty.

In the area of the US in which I grew up, the equivalent of Australia’s entire population is accessible on a train ride that takes less than two hours at peak traffic.

Here, the entire effort needs to go into what Dyga calls the ‘Sidestream’ — because all expenditures towards supporting democratic politics wind up captured by the left. It feeds money and people into the progressive maw rather than harming the beast.

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12 thoughts on “Restoration Watch: Australia Edition

  1. The true test of an ideology’s hegemony is the degree to which its enemies feel they can criticise it only on its terms, or oppose it only by relinquishing their original principles.

    The core of the disagreement wrt to political candidates between the paleo-right and neoreaction seems to be right there. Neoreaction deems such efforts futile because it has taken that one extra step of meta: Electoral politics—mass appeal politics of any kinds—ARE the terms and syntax of the Left.

    I have conversations like this all the time (I won’t say where, but those who know me IRL know where):

    Staunch Movement Conservative: Can you believe what Obama’s trying to do now? We must stop him!!

    Red-pilled Neoreactionary: Well, that’s really bad, but it’s about what we should expect from this irredeemably flawed demotist system. There’s not much we can do about it. We don’t have the power to stop him.

    SMC: So we should stand back and do nothing?! That’s crazy. At least candidate X is TRYING to do something about it! And popular right wing group Y is protesting it.

    RPN: Well, I can imagine X and Y stemming the tide temporarily if they are successful, maybe for even 4 or 8 years. But ultimately it will all fail, the overton window will shift, conservatives will get left behind as they always do, and the March of Progress will march on. That’s how democracy works. We should focus primarily on ways, closer to home and more achievable, to protect what we value for the long term. And not obsess over this or that thing that Obama’s doing in the far off Imperial Capital.

    SMC: That’s NIHILIST. All you Red-pilled Neoreactionaries are nothing but Nihilists!!

    It is precisely the psychology behind hypothetical Staunch Movement Conservative here that guarantees failure. They are playing the Left’s Game, on the Left’s terms, as they were trained. And they cannot conceive of a different way to play the game.

    • I have argued with an old friend on facebook and he refuses to relinquish his squishy libertarian blank slate view of race. Despite having grown up with him & knowing he saw race in a very identarian way at least up until he got married. He has swallowed the libertarian view hook, line & sinker I think because he is still enamored with the notion that a sufficiently large electoral victory will somehow bring down “statism”. I argue with him because I know none of my left wing friends & family are capable of sustained debate without becoming enraged.

      The illusion of electoral deliverance is hard to dispel. 2012 finally killed it in me, even though my views on almost everything else are unchanged. Telling people I thought antebellum America was better than modern America was difficult going one step farther & saying democracy has failed (as it always has) was not difficult, but I needed to see I wasn’t alone & crazy, but that others saw what I saw.

      Just seeing that others agreed with me made me turn away from politics as a possible source of renewal. I went from conservative to reactionary with a little nudge, but only systemic & rapid collapse (while there are still white people able to save themselves) will open the eyes of enough people to do any good for our country & culture as a whole.

      However I think we’re doomed. Though I likely won’t know for sure in my lifetime. I keep thinking this can’t go on forever yet it does. If a vaguely identarian conservative won’t see the light to at least become a race realist (still merely a paleo-con position) then how much more difficult will it be to alter the culture as a whole.

  2. Something else I’ve always thought libertarians & conservatives always fight ideological battles on the left’s home field.

    Example: What does capitalism actually mean? The left gives a definition, but it boils down to one thing. Capitalism is the world as it actually exists. If a policy fails its because of Capitalism. If a country declares itself socialist then everything that goes wrong is because of Capitalism. Capitalism explains all their failures.

    What does Socialism mean? The world as I (as a leftist) imagine it. Socialism is just another word for fantasy or delusion. Why will disarmament work? Socialism! Why will people stop being envious & cruel? Socialism! Why will people do difficult & dangerous jobs without being properly remunerated? Why Socialism silly.

    Replace above with Patriarchy & Equality and see how it fits. Identarians & Reactionaries have been pretty good at using & coining new words (e.g. thede & demotism) to describe their ideology, but some words are pure leftist bullshit. Gender outside of the narrow study of language is one such word. When talking about humans use sex & never gender. Get off the left’s rickety scaffolding & use real words, not left wing cant.

    • Patriarchy has older roots, but in English it has come to mean something entirely different. Under current conditions, it may or may not be easier to create a new word for it. I’m not sure.

  3. “Rugby is also obviously a more masculine game than American football, in the latter’s obsession with absurd plastic armor and finicky rules.”

    Hah, you’d be first exiled in NRx America. Heck, most of NRx would, I don’t get the feeling most of y’all tried out for sports teams. No national loyalty!

  4. Interesting essay by Dyga. A few comments.

    Quadrant doesn’t really have that much influence in Australia and serious conservatism is brain dead here in Australia. It died when Bob Sanatmaria and his circle died. Australian society tends to be more pragmatic than U.S. society and the idealism present in the U.S. is not so here. The pragmatic nature of most Australian politicians means that politics remains well withing the Overton window and while most people think that the feminists are nuts but there is no real principled or intellectual opposition to them.

    Dyga is a Traditionalist and it shows, and its a shame he doesn’t further explore the relationship between traditionalism and ontology, or more particularly, its variation with it. There seems to be a defacto assumption that the two are aligned whereas I would beg to differ.

    His description of the failure of conservative politics is just that, a description and there is no analysis as to why it failed but it is heartening to see that there is finally a recognition, amongst some at least, that something is profoundly wrong with conservative politics.

    indeed, the “establicon” boast at being the most competent at managerial efficiency and fiscal economism actually underscores its fundamental incompetence at reversing the leftist advance in the cultural arena.

    As if on cue, this article from yesterday’s Daily Mail pretty much confirms Dyga’s point.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2845832/It-s-time-stop-dancing-cynical-Ukip-s-corrosive-pernicious-tune-says-vice-chairman-Tory-backbench-1922-Committee.html

    Finally, his comments of male sexuality have a strong whiff of the MRA about them. He speaks of men in the passive sense not realising that the passive state is the problem.

    Still, it was an article that did engage the brain.

    • I didn’t pick up the eau d’MRA, but you are more clued into Aus than I am.

      I think if the death of one person can crack your political circle, then it’s quite fragile and perhaps more of a social club than political club.

      That politician in your link should be fed to fish. I don’t understand how that guy doesn’t understand why his rhetoric is so disconnected from the typical person, especially as compared to Farage.

      In America, our public rhetoric is idealistic, but the permanent administration governs. David Stockman’s book on his experience in the Reagan administration is especially relevant to that.

  5. I am Australian. I have lived abroad for seven and a half years, though I’ve been back five times during that time. I find it hard to get a handle on what’s going on there sometimes. As has already been mentioned, Australian politics is not nearly as ideological as American politics. This does, indeed, mean that it is not as brittle. In that regard, I think that the rot runs much deeper in some ways and will be harder to correct. Certainly local government is often a real pain in the backside. That said, for reasons I will discuss below, I think that Australia is not necessarily anywhere near as far down the rabbit hole as the US or UK, and so it may have time to observe those places self-destruct and then self-correct. I don’t vote, but if I were in the US or UK, I’d definitely follow a strategy of agree, amplify and accelerate. I am not so sure that that would be the right strategy for Australia (yet) as there may be more hope.
    I do think that there’s a certain love affair with socialism and welfare in Australia, including middle class welfare. It’s hard for me to fully figure out what people want though as they can be really contradictory. It seems to be mainly driven by perceived self-interest. My cousin, for instance, complains about the centre-right party on some social issues, yet votes for them anyway, mostly for economic reasons, I think. She always complains about tax (since her husband is self-employed), yet she has no qualms about complaining about what the government (regardless of party) doesn’t do for her. Other people’s programmes are bad, hers are good, in short. Of course, with everyone thinking that way, that’s why she has to pay for the bloated state she complains about. Basically, I don’t think she has a clue. Then again, she runs her personal life and finances that way also. I tend to think that a lot of the Australian electorate is that myopic, ill-informed, contradictory and parochial.
    Then there are two other trends I have noticed. One is that I think a sizable number of young people are very different to older generations in how they regard politics. The Greens are a growing party, and I think they will continue to gain ground because the march through the institutions (particularly education) has been wildly successful for the left. My parents live in a blue ribbon right wing seat, and yet last election, 16% of the electorate voted Greens, compared to only 8% nationally. Some of those voters would have been rich women with a “social conscience”, but many would have been young. Some of those young voters will no doubt grow up and change, but many won’t. I think the trend is leftward in the middle/upper middle class, and in the lower class/lower middle class, it’s not nearly as leftward, and many may even regard the Greens as raging lunatics. I am not sure how that will play out exactly in the Australian system.
    Then there is immigration, which is very different to that in the US and UK for two reasons. Firstly, Australia generally has a “no riff raff” policy, which tends to make immigrants somewhat more reactionary by default. Then, there’s ethnicity. Overwhelmingly, the top four countries of origin are India, China, the UK and New Zealand. The New Zealanders probably lean left, but I’m not so sure about the British. I suspect that many are not just looking for a sunnier place with better opportunities, as may have been the case in previous decades, but are actively fleeing multi-culti Britain, and so somewhat suspicious of, if not hostile to, far left politics. The Chinese, I am sure, whilst not exactly right wing in the way typically imagined, are probably quite anti-left wing in that they are raging capitalists, high achievers academically, and anti-egalitarian generally. I don’t know about the Indians. I suspect they’re somewhat similar, but maybe a little more left wing. So, immigration may actually make Australia slightly more right wing, or at least have the potential to do so, but I can’t say for sure.
    As I mentioned at the start, I can’t figure out how it all fits together.

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