Fascism: why in Europe why not in America?

New Years resolution a blog post a week so starting early and building on the political analysis in my Alfred Deakin Research Institute Working Paper American liberalism and capitalism from William Jennings Bryan to Barack Obama:

Is there a new fascism on the march? Observers point to the far-right terrorism in Europe, how Islamophobia repeats the tropes of anti-Semitism and the renewed strength of the American radical right. Most forget that Australia saw its fascist episode recently in the form of One Nation. Fascism is more likely to become a significant political force in Europe than in the United States. We need to move beyond expressions of horror to analysis. Continue reading

Arrivals and Departures then and now

Often books written long ago and now forgotten shed much light on the present. An example recently read is James Jupp’s 1966 Arrivals and Departures on post- World War II immigration to Australia. He shows how Australian policymakers engaged in endless self-congratulation about what a success the program had been and how welcoming they were to immigrants.  Immigrants disagreed but nobody asked them. Continue reading

Has American liberalism a future?

An extract from my soon to be published Alfred Deakin Research Institute Working Paper on American liberalism:

American liberalism has been shaped by both the crises and triumphs of capitalism. In the 1970s Democratic President Jimmy Carter like Grover Cleveland in the 1890s was unable to effectively respond to an economic crisis and thus encouraged the mass defection of working-class voters to the right. The 1930s provided the opposite example as the successful response of the Democrats to the Great Depression initiated a fundamental realignment. Continue reading

Conservatism and authority in industrial relations

Work leaves me little time to blog. However Qantas dispute and the revival of conservative anti-unionism are of note. It represents the latest manifestation of a liberal-conservative tradition in Australia which I discuss below in an extract from a paper of mine under review. This tradition is hostile to unions on conservative grounds that they challenge authority relations. Continue reading

NSW Labor 1911-2011, Labor & radical liberalism: two papers

I attended Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and the Australian Political Studies Association recently. Both papers inspired by contemporary issues. My ASSLH paper examined career of Richard Crouch the Deakinite Liberal who after losing Corio to Labor in 1910 joined the ALP as a result of his experiences at Gallipoli. Crouch was Labor MP for Corangamite 1929-31 but he was rather out of place in the ALP of the era. Today a revived radical liberalism in the form of the Greens poses a major challenge to Labor and I argue historians have underestimated the extent to which Labor inherited the tradition of radical liberalism. My APSA paper analyzed the record of NSW Labor from 1911 to 2011, although I said very little about the party’s first period in government. The paper sought to integrate an analysis of policy with an ecological regression analysis of electoral outcomes. Major omission pointed out in comments was that I did not consider the literature on party structure: was Labor ever a mass party and what type of party is it now?

From Communists in 1951 to refugees in 2011: Labor & the High Court

The federal Labor government of Julia Gillard struggles with the issue of asylum-seekers, the government’s rigid position is widely unpopular among Labor activists and party sympathizers and many were pleased with the High Court’s decision on the Malaysian solution. Caucus leaks to an extent akin to that of the Scullin government. We can see how times change and remain the same if we consider Labor’s problems with the Communist issue in the early 1950s as recounted by Leslie Crisp and Sean Scalmer. Continue reading

Abbott and Chifley, Salisbury & Spencer

Two comments about the Great Depression by one future Prime Minister and one aspirant to be Prime Minister. In 1944 Ben Chifley declared:

In my electorate, I witnessed the freedom that was enjoyed by 2000 men outside a factory in an attempt to secure the one job that was offering…the freedom to starve and live on the dole…the freedom of the economic individualists whose only God was Mammon and profit Continue reading

Ignoring the unemployed

Much airheadery on British riots. Some historical background provided by Gareth Steadman Jones’ Outcast London on the Victorian specter of the mob. One point. There has been much discussion of ‘social exclusion’ and the beneficial consequences of labour market participation. There is something to this although much popular discussion about social policy suffers from a redemptive model of discourse in which individual policy tools are to be relied on to achieve multiple and often ill-defined goals. One thing I remember from first-year economics is the principle that each policy goal usually requires one tool. Continue reading