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07 April 2015
by John Passant

Pauline Hanson and Reclaim (white) Australia.

Pauline Hanson, the figure of popular racism from the 1990s, spoke at the Reclaim (White) Australia rally in Brisbane. This is significant.

During her political popularity (when for example in 1998 her One Nation Party with 22% of the vote won 11 seats in the Queensland Parliament) Hanson reflected the despair of a middle class under attack because of changes in the capital accumulation process and some workers, especially non-unionised workers in regional areas.

This meant to the surprise of many mainstream media commentators that her rallies and meetings were populated by well dressed and manicured small business people and other middle class types unhappy with the changing nature of the Australian economy and its by-passing of them. This uncertainty created an opening for Hanson and for a short time she benefited.

However Hanson did not have the political skill to coalesce a strong alienated middle class minority around her brand of fear and hate and racist scapegoating and scaremongering. Nor could she challenge Howard when he out Hansoned her and drew many of her supporters into the Liberal net with his rabid anti-refugee stance and other reactionary policies.

She faded away, but did not disappear. At the last election in Queensland in January this year standing in the seat of Lockyer, Hanson won over 8000 votes and fell just short of winning the seat with 49.8% of the vote on a two party preferred basis according to the ABC Queensland election results site.

Clearly there is still an audience out there for her racist views. Her linking up with Reclaim Australia is a new development in the possible resurgence of her One Nation style politics, the politics of exclusion, scapegoating, and hate. It opens up a new audience and an army of enforcers for her middle class vision.

Fascism has in the past built its base among the middle class and the lumpen proletariat. One provides the respectable face and the money and the other the bovver boys to attack the left.

Hanson had many in those sections of the middle class feeling politically and economically isolated on board. What she lacked was a bovver boy brigade.

The lumpen proletariat element at the Reclaim Australia may give her that brigade. The potential in the future development of the Reclaim Australia movement is for the concentric rings of respectability and aggro to coalesce around Hanson and provide a base for an Australian version of fascism around a populist figure head.

Of course it is early days yet but by looking at the issue in class terms we can at least understand potential scenarios for the future built on the experience of history.

The possibility of a populist Hanson and a neo-Nazi right within Reclaim Australia finding common ground, as they appear to be doing, is frightening. It could herald the development of a proto-fascist organisation, based on the disaffected middle and lower classes and racist fear-mongering. We need to gather our forces and begin the fight against the racist Reclaim (White) Australia movement. It is better to remove the weeds before they destroy the garden than after they have.
Apply the weedicide now, not when the weeds have overrun the garden and it is too late.