The Greens and Clive Hamilton
The Greens have selected Clive Hamilton to run in the safe Liberal seat of Higgins in the forthcoming by-election.
The reactionaries in the Labor Party will not stand a candidate. Presumably a defeat for Rudd the Sun King would let slip his halo of invincibility and throw off track the momentum for an early election.
Hamilton is the Hollywood candidate for the Greens – a profile parachuted in to perform miracles.
So the Greens aren’t acting locally.
The idea you can win a seat with a personality is bunkum.
It demeans the intelligence of people to think that more than a few might be influenced by the fact a candidate is a former football player, rock god or whatever it is the sellout did in their former life.
In Hamilton’s case, admittedly, there is a little more substance to him than Peter Garrett or Pat Farmer or Hazem El Masri have.
He set up the Australia Institute, which in polite circles is called left wing.
But Hamilton isn’t left wing.
Here’s what the Australia Institute says on its website. (Yeah, I know, Clive isn’t there any more but it’s his philosophy.)
With new dilemmas confronting our society and our planet, a better balance is urgently needed. Unprecedented levels of consumption co-exist with extreme poverty. Technology has connected humanity as never before, yet civic engagement is declining. Environmental neglect continues despite heightened ecological awareness. If genuine progress is to be achieved, conscience, equity and concern for the future must be the guiding principles of our democracy. Socially just, environmentally responsible and economically viable solutions are possible, but only if insightful questions are combined with excellent research.
The Institute is determined to push public debate beyond the simplistic question of whether markets or governments have all the answers to more important questions: When does government need to intervene in the market? When should it stand back? And when regulation is needed, what form should it take?
What’s radical about this? It’s reformism, nothing but warmed over laborism.
Indeed, Clive’s book Affluenza blames working people for wanting a few consumer goodies. For him over-consumption rather than overproduction is the problem. Hamilton fears the masses.
On the environment there is much to agree with. Hamilton recognises the immense dangers facing humanity today.
And his suggested course of action – radical activism – is a step forward from the usual rhetoric of the do-nothings (including, I think, the party he is standing for, the Greens.)
But this radical activism is aimed at confronting the public rather than leading it. It is elitism or, in the language of we arcane leftists, substitutionism.
To imagine that change comes through Parliament (as Hamilton in standing seemingly does) is to downplay the need for radical activism. In other words Hamilton’s view of change is top down.
There is a common link in all of Hamilton’s views. Change is handed down from the gods of Mt Olympus. This blends in neatly with his contempt for, indeed fear of, working people.
His radical activism is missing an important component – mass democratic action.
Thus his statism. He supports capitalist government intervention in the market to save the profit system. He supports state censorship.
And he is so keen to protect the profit system that he is prepared seemingly to accept a dictatorship to do so in the name of the environment. He has written:
Very few people, even among environmentalists, have truly faced up to what the science is telling us.
This is because the implications of 3C, let alone 4C or 5C, are so horrible that we look to any possible scenario to head it off, including the canvassing of “emergency” responses such as the suspension of democratic processes.
Now this just may be badly phrased. I have begun to think that some of the consequences of climate change will so threaten the profit system that an environmental Bonaparte or Hitler could arise.
The difference is I oppose such a development, and would counterpose mass democratic action from below as the solution to the climate change crisis.
Hamilton’s candidature for the Greens in Higgins is a continuation of his change from above approach and his elitist dismissal of the concerns of working people.
The alternative is the long hard slog of building a mass movement of ordinary people to defend their interests – wages, jobs, a better environment and justice and equity.
If Hamilton ever had such a vision his candidature for the Greens is the final capitulation.
An elitist with contempt for ordinary working people – Clive Hamilton is the perfect Greens’ candidate for Higgins.