Green Reflections and the New Reactionaries

After all the ink, pixels and airtime spilled over the Greens this weekend, it hardly seems possible that I could add anything. But my response to commenter GangGreen started me thinking.

All the talk of the function and decline of the Greens touches on the development of a troubling political movement: the New Reactionaries, the New Aristocracy, or the Ruling Class, depending on whom you read. Leichhardt Council is currently in thrall to the New Reactionaries.

It is utterly absurd that the Greens and ALP who speak so venomously of ‘Tories’ – thanks Cr Byrne – are the ones who exhibit the most conservative views and policies that most entrench insiders in positions of privilege.

This deeply conservative movement has emerged on the Left. Those that most oppose change, most oppose reform to reduce prices and increase opportunity for ordinary people, most attack the basis of ordinary workers’ prosperity and are most contemptuous of the values of ordinary people, are currently cloaking themselves in Leftist ‘good guy’ clothes. That is simply false. And the electorate has begun to see through it.

I often find myself taking positions and arguing for change in expressly old school Leftist terms, against the contemporary Left. On prosperity, on opportunity, on employment, on the right of people to make their own choices, on breaking down insider status. Our labels are all wrong, even reversed – they’re a remnant of another political era.

As GangGreen commented, the old Left wanted to build wealth and then make sure everyone had some of the goodies. The New Reactionaries don’t want to build anything or change anything: they want to give stuff to sectional interests, and they want to make us all poorer because we’ve sinned.

Too often the Green-Left is a voice arguing for ordinary working people to make sacrifices, life-changes, or supply tax dollars to projects promoted by people who are among our wealthiest and most privileged.

The Carbon Tax that smashes our blue-collar workforce is one. Planning restrictions that hurt families and small businesses are another. The same restrictions that destroy housing supply and affordability are another. All up front in the world of Leichhardt Council.

Campaigning in Balmain in 2011 I was stunned at how glibly individual wealthy Greens – much more privileged than any Liberal member in the area – could argue for the taxpayers of western Sydney to subsidise their grandiose visions for the harbour, Callan Park and elsewhere. Or that they could ask for more money for their school sports equipment because they had spent six figures on being Australia’s first Green school.

I was stunned that supposed outsider Greens could embrace Big Unions, especially in areas like education, where opposition to change has real consequences for the educational success of our disadvantaged.

So it is no surprise that the Greens come out in support of big government unions. They are economically and fiscally illiterate, but it is more than that. Anyone serious about improving how government delivers services to those most in need must support greater reliance on choice, and not-for-profit and for-profit frontline service provision. The evidence is in; there is no doubt.

The Green-Left equation of spending with services is, well, so last century. Tony Blair’s cash splash in education showed it. NSW’s cash splash in everything public sector showed it. US municipal councils’ bankruptcies showed it. The European Union showed it. Even social democrat Sweden showed it as far back as 1998, when they reduced government’s share of GDP by about 20% (of GDP!…but it’s still incredibly high).

To be fair, as GangGreen pointed out, some Liberal representatives have taken on a similar NIMBY, stop-the-world perspective. Many Liberal voters have also signed on to Green myths about population, resources and housing. More fool them. It is true that that is an indictment of the quality of argument coming from our side of politics. But the quality of the argument is changing. The Centre-Right is more willing to take on the Green myths that have dominated.

Bob Brown’s departure is big news. That the Green-Left is slowly being recognised as the people-hating, quasi-aristocratic conservatives  reactionaries they are is bigger.

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