Did you see much about the vote in Australia in the past few days? It was an important one, and the results were extremely revealing. I’ve not seen much mainstream coverage of it at all. In fact, most coverage stopped weeks ago, once it became rather obvious which way the vote would run.
The question concerned a referendum that would have ended a key Western pillar of social and political law, the idea of equal application of the law. It proposed the addition of a new arm of Parliament supposedly to represent the interests of the indigenous people—not the actual people of course, but those claiming to represent them. The way to be admitted to the group is genetic, which is to say a biological test for political power.
A “yes” vote would have entrenched two illiberal ideas: The indigenous people in Australia are not part of the mainstream political community but rather a separate and distinct part, and, furthermore, they are best understood as a permanent victim class in need of forever reparations from people who never harmed them. It was the ultimate case of collective guilt and collective identity, the results of which would have done nothing to improve the lives of any indigenous people.
Incredibly, as the campaign ramped up, the “yes” position was pushed very hard by all the main power centers in Australian politics.
The whole crazy scheme went down in a sweeping and devastating repudiation by 3 of 5 voters nationwide. This represents a total humiliation not only for the racialist cause—oddly favored by the left—but also for all elite media and corporate voices that completely misread not only the intent of the referendum but also the attitude of the public.
The vote also confirms my general view of the voting public: You can get 30 percent to believe in and support nearly anything, no matter how dangerously insane.
Mr. Thakur further explains, “People solidified a principled opposition to racial division and privilege that would have elevated one ancestry-based group over all others, and hitched it to cynicism about the practical outcomes projected to be delivered by presenting The Voice as a magic wand.”
Following the tragic and devastating amount of compliance with COVID-19 controls over several years, this vote represents a true enlightenment on the part of the people and a renewed fire for rights and liberties.
“In other words,” Mr. Thakur wrote, “Australians chose to vote No, not because they don’t care, but precisely because they do care, and care very deeply, emotionally and intellectually. They are not the frightened but the enlightened, committed to reinvigorating Australia as a unified nation and renewing the political project of a liberal democracy where the government stays in its lane and there is equality of citizenship and opportunity for all Australians.”
Years ago, I was invited to speak in Australia and give my impressions from several days of travel and interacting with the people and systems. I was utterly astonished at the efficiency and friendliness of the public service there, and the level of social trust, which seemed to be nearly universal. As Americans, we are not used to this at all.
Just for example, even in the busiest part of any major city, you can walk up to any policeman and ask for help or directions. He will invariably smile and be as helpful as possible and end the conversation with “No worries.”
No worries indeed. Back in those days, Australia was a country without worries. Flying into one airport, I left my wallet on the security belt and couldn’t find it. The entirety of the security apparatus got super busy and looked everywhere, helping me retrace my steps. When one member of airline security found it, there were widespread cheers and happiness.
Dealing with the Transportation Security Administration for two decades in the United States, I almost couldn’t believe what was happening. Is this utopia? It sort of felt like it.
In my lecture, I celebrated this feature of the country.
I also issued a warning. It’s wonderful to have a government that deserves trust. The close and seemingly peaceful integration between the social order and the governing order is something to admire. But it could come at a cost, I said. There could come a time when the government turns on the people.
When that happens, will people be willing to withdraw trust and fly into opposition to the government? Or will the ethos of universal goodwill trump the demand for freedom? Are people who trust government able to recognize when the underlying social contract has been broken?
I asked these questions and urged Australians to be ever vigilant for their liberties, since there could come a time when the policy apparatus reveals itself as an enemy.
Sure enough, that time did come in 2020. The state imprisoned people in their homes and states. They banned them from shopping and beaches. It controlled their speech: People were arrested for their social media posts. Even public protests were banned and broken up by police. The mask mandates were enforced in this country with extreme coercion.
The same thing happened with vaccine mandates. They blocked the unvaccinated from an international tennis competition. Cruelly and disgustingly, public health forced vaccinations on indigenous people who absolutely didn’t want them and in total disregard for their rights and their health. The people who did this are the same ones who pushed for the vote on The Voice to go yes.
This supposed public health totalitarianism was all for naught, since COVID came to the island country anyway as it did everywhere, regardless of the tightness of the lockdown. Sadly, most of the country went along with all of these policies as the government broadcasted happy messages of “We are all in this together.” Hardly any public voice stood up.
There’s now tremendous regret in the country for what happened, given the dramatic decline in tourism, the rise of inflation, the economic downturn, and the decline in public health. More than ever now, people fear the government, as they should. They are in an oppositional mode, as they should be. The referendum on The Voice was shot down ferociously by a genuine populist movement that soundly rejected the propaganda campaigns by the centers of power.
It seems clear now that a fundamental change has happened to this country. From “No worries” as a universal slogan, there’s now plenty about which to worry, and fight! Watch a movie such as “Crocodile Dundee” and you gain a picture of the old Australia, rough and ready and fighting the power. By the time the COVID controls came, that was a distant memory.
It is all being revived now in the wake of this referendum.
Most of the leaders who pushed lockdowns in that part of the world are now unseated from power. In New Zealand, the Labor government suffered a complete rout. Jacinda Ardern had already resigned and fled the country, taking sanctuary at Harvard University with two lucrative fellowships. There, she will be celebrated and admired even as she is despised in her own country.
If you want striking news along the same lines closer to the United States, consider that the latest data reveal only a 2 percent uptake on the new vaccine, thus sinking Pfizer’s stock price. Meanwhile, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who has litigated against COVID controls and censorship, just flipped Louisiana to red from blue by becoming governor.
Again, the striking feature of each of these dramas is the huge gap between the opinions of the elites and the will of the masses of people. It’s likely never been this vast in the course of our lifetimes. As never before, we are aware of how and why we are being propagandized and manipulated, and why they are so intent on surveilling and censoring the people.
I’m wary of language that claims that the people are “waking up” and such, but this time, I’m slightly tempted to use it. The votes are devastating repudiations of elite plans to upend rights and freedoms. This same momentum needs to apply in a vast range of policies right now, and before it’s too late.
Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown.
Jeffrey A.Tucker’s interview with David Leis on Leaders on the Frontier can be seen here.
His testimony at the National Citizens Inquiry (Winnipeg) may be viewed here.