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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Benevolent Fascism of Australia, Part I | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on September 10, 2021

With QR codes and contact tracing, the discussion of further surveillance of Australians to minimize the spread of COVID-19 will be accepted an condoned. And in the case of the war on drugs, placing members of the public on lists and denying them travel and the ability to mail or receive items from abroad will continue. In time we will have quaint memories of a more liberal time as the future brings far more dire and extreme measures of law and order.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-benevolent-fascism-of-australia-part-i/

by Kym Robinson

Australia is in the news.

The images of police officers imposing themselves on the citizenry has drawn the attention of international critics. It has also raised admiration for those who have big government inclinations. Some have declared that Australia has fallen as a free society, that it should now be considered a police state. Australia, however, already had a history as a police state. The balance between individual freedom and an overbearing government has been one of constant, uneven sways over time and it usually takes a crisis to bring down the full weight of authoritarianism. And most Australians have always been fine with this.

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested both individuals and governments, and shown their true nature. The pandemic response has revealed a dangerous dependence that all of us have been forced to place on government monopolies, from health and infrastructure to security and in many cases, income. The lockdown culture of not only Australian state governments but governments the world over have shown an irrational and reactionary impulse to rule and control, not just to stop a virus but crush dissent itself. They claim it is for all of our health; it is scientific and it’s to save as many lives as possible. No room for debate, only obey and do as one is told. It is the science of law, order, and health.

In practice it has been random, arbitrary, inconsistent, unscientific and some lives really do seem to matter over others. The police have been a crucial element in the fight against the citizenry during the pandemic. It’s been the police that have enforced laws that have destroyed the economy and put lives indirectly in jeopardy. Last year entire apartment towers in Melbourne were instantly quarantined and the individuals inside only access to the outside world was via the police. Those trapped were treated as criminals and were sacrificed in an attempt to “flatten the curve.” Melbourne itself would soon suffer an almost indefinite lockdown cycle. The curve was never flattened.

Following the trend in liberal democracies, partisan politics alleviate blame from specific government departments. The police and experts are viewed as amoral objects who are wielded by incompetent and power hungry politicians. Regardless of the political leadership these technocrats, officials and police officers remain the same. Australia has a history of governance via experts and panels. The politicians usually help legitimize such measures when it comes to excessive policing. It is not a political leadership problem, it is a problem from the ground up. Morality, right and wrong, are exercised by the individual. “Just doing a job” or “Just following orders” is a coward’s shield by which to hide beneath.

It is not just an Australian phenomenon to see the police inserting themselves more and more into the citizen’s day to day. It is however an Australian tradition to lean heavily onto policing for numerous crises. The police are an important tool for the state and federal governments in Australia and act as the aggressive arm to both impose and implement policy while also to protect the government itself. Australia projects itself as a free society that values human rights, but at times in its own history it has a patchwork of authoritarianism which is more common than many wish to admit.

“Australian police forces were similarly founded on violence: racist violence, imperial violence and settler colonial violence. Some of the earliest forms of state policing were established with the specific purpose of extending the colonial frontier.”- Amanda Porter, Senior fellow at Melbourne Law School.

Many historians on colonial Australia consider that the early policing models were not based upon British community methods and organization but instead were a paramilitary model that was used during the same period to impose imperial oppression in Ireland. A lot of these traditions have remained in Australian policing and in how the various governments have continued to wield it. Public health and safety mandates are often the fixture of policing in Australia along with the ever aggressive War on Terror.

Beyond the state level Australia has numerous federal agencies that are granted great powers which obey the Department of Home Affairs and will in the coming years grow more powerful in reach, focus, and powers. The boundaries of colonial expansion may have been fulfilled but those into the individuals private life and against their rights are a frontier that Australian police agencies are continuing to encroach upon. To understand the Australian “police state” we must also understand certain aspects of Australian history and social norms that have made the modern situation possible and why it really is neither unusual or unexpected.

Australians are now in a society where they need to tune in to government officials to find out what they can and cannot do. It is a nation that is run on press conferences, where most Australians watch the television with an obedience to find out the infection and death numbers while hanging on to every word of experts and government ministers. In a recent incident those from regional NSW found themselves under lockdown mandates with only a tweet as the official announcement. The tweet posted at 3pm and stated that by 5pm all of regional NSW would be in a 7-day lockdown. The police perpetrated an ever active enforcement on those who do not have Twitter or didn’t hear about such a spontaneous announcement.

While Australia is in the media abroad, most Australians are oblivious to the condemnation and the risk that lies ahead for them. It is a future uncertain but with the promise of safety nets and blankets provided by a scientific government of planners and scientists. It is a government that is based upon altruistic welfare and reactionary impulses, while also being steered by careful trends of academic hubris. It is a nation of public servants and an ever dependent public. The police exist to protect not so much the individual (and certainly not freedom) but the nation state itself. And in an expression of true democracy, perhaps the mob of the majority welcome and embrace this because many are apart of it in some way.

“Australia’s federal constitution does not protect fundamental human rights nor does it regulate the use of force by the police. Australia‘s federal rules on police use of force generally comply with international standards although an amended law in New South Wales allows use of firearms against suspected terrorists where no imminent threat is perceived.”- Policing Law, The Law on Police Use of Force Worldwide

Medical State

For the advocates of government, especially an all powerful one that is responsible for every aspect of human life, a powerful and active police force is crucial. It is the ugly truth that confuses utopian governance with the dystopian truths of practical history. In the past, besides aspects of moral puritanism, the individual’s health and body was their own domain. But in the modern era of public health we are seeing the unification of the health and police state.

Australia has a populace that believes in the existence of a public health system. It is an ideological abstract which is rarely challenged. It is considered a right to all Australians to have access to “free health” regardless of any failings, scarcity, and prohibition of choice that such a system presents. Because of this the individual’s body becomes a shared entity, one that the state is expected to care for and in many aspects control. Despite the majority wanting such a powerful health system, the past belief in individual body autonomy still lingers in the minds of even the advocates of public health.

So Australia is going through a cross roads between human rights and the call for greater power to the healthcare system over the public and individuals themselves. The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the conflict between these two perspectives. Those who advocate public health as a right also want the individual to have the right of health autonomy. The reality is that a powerful public health system controls what medication and treatment an individual has access to. It also creates extended waiting periods and it has the ability to determine treatment based on wider concerns than the individual’s own health. Those concerns often being cost, time, resources, and the fatigue-availability of health practitioners.

It is an almost impossible fight for individual liberty when public health is entrenched in Australian society as a “collective good.” The wider implications of costs, shortages, and a lack of alternative treatments are disregarded in favour of a one-payer system that homogenizes and centralizes medicine. It is assumed that a free market of health would leave the poor under the bus and become expensive but it is the health state that creates dependence and makes it harder for many to actually get treatment, not to mention lengthy waiting periods and a lack of accountability when things go wrong.

The police and at times the military have been used to quarantine entire cities and states, separate families, and treat individuals as criminals because they “may” be sick. This is the new reality that health mandates and a powerful health state brings with it. Whatever pretence of human rights is lost and ignored because it is declared a crisis. Just as the War on Terror allows the police to trample on the freedoms that terror organizations threaten, a powerful police state can snatch those liberties away in the name of security. In matters of public health the individual is isolated and condemned as being selfish and placing others at risk, should they seek independence and autonomy. So as is in the War on Terror, those who question government overreach or act differently are marginalized as being a threat to the wider community.

It is not a too distant future in Australia where individuals may be forced to take medication against their will, receive procedures that they do not want, or are denied access to friends and families based upon health status. The public health system has become so important that the private citizen has little choice and say over their own body. The imperial approach and dominion over the individual is always done with a benevolent parental tone, assuming that all individuals are childlike or a risk to everyone else. That is the hallmark of the public health system in the first place, a one way street with little regard to individual needs, wants, and complexities.

The emergency powers of government allows it to disregard international laws and domestic laws that it has promised to uphold. These are the special, exceptional powers of all government, not just Australia’s. War allows a nation to declare martial law, impose curfews and grant itself extraordinary powers. The health crisis and mandates are treated as if the rule of law never really existed. It is an illusion that dupes those who romance government and believe that it stands for human rights. But it always serves itself and grows. The health state is just another aspect of the leviathan’s reach and control.

Just as a person consuming or selling “illicit materials” is considered a public threat regardless of their actual actions, so too can the benign existence of those individuals who do not want the same medical procedures or medications, whether because of ethical reasons or because it may be a direct danger to their health. Elements within the wider community have recently reported on such individuals and tar them as being selfish and “super spreaders” of the virus, which is apparently the greatest threat to human existence. “Dobbing is the new patriotism,” as one commentator put it.

Because a large part of the populace supports the government regardless of political affiliation and consider the experts the absolute authority regardless of human rights and individual liberty, the health state has a large community of active ‘dobbers’ who will inform the police on businesses, families, and people that are defying the mandates and rules that are constantly being amended during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Those doing the “dobbing” are often doing it because they genuinely believe that those in breech of such laws are dangerous and reckless or as is often cited, being selfish. And in other instances a more cynical aspect of jealousy and spite likely steer the dobber’s actions.

One police officer during the last South Australian state lockdown claimed that their phone lines were non-stop with members of the public reporting number plates of vehicles driving during the period or giving information on those who were suspected of being in breech of the lockdown. In 2020 wives were informing on their husbands who dared to sneak in a late night dog walk and beach goers were filmed swimming on their own in the sun. It is not just a legal problem but a cultural one.

Why is all of this talk about public health so important? Because it is one key aspect of modern Australian culture, the ingrained importance of the government to most people and what empowers the police force in their present conduct. The sword and spear of the Australian government are their police forces and the military. Both are becoming more of a Swiss Army Knife apparatus with so many uses to be wielded, removing the key conceptual function of such entities. The public belief in what the police and military do or should do is often in contrast with the reality of what they are being asked to do and continue to do.

The anti-lockdown protests in Australia have become a divisive issue. The protesters are accused of being “conspiracy theorists” and “anti-vaxxers” in an attempt to label them as simpletons. While some some certainly are, not all. Such simplified claims ignore very real grievances and frustrations. Those sympathetic and wary of police powers can see a heavy handed response and a media backlash that has not given a balanced perspective. In an age where diversity and being inclusive is promoted when it comes matters of political opinions, dissent about one’s own health is not allowed.

The war on the virus has created a paranoia and obsession with defeating an entity through laws and violence against individuals. It is the belief that more government can somehow make people healthy and safe. Just like the War on Terror it looks to erode the freedom that it boasts to safeguard and instead empowers the police state to the point that a nation becomes a prison full of either compliant and eager subjects who believe in such measures or those who are forced to suffer it despite their instincts and desires for liberty (or to be left alone).

What empowers the police state is its benevolent claim of safety and security. Public health is extremely important to the Australian government and the wider public. To question the public health system is taboo and often political suicide. It is a civic religion. The wider implications and dangers of such a system are ignored and denied and inevitably more funding and overhauls are demanded. This in turn gives all control to the government in regards to individual and community health. Because no real free market exists, regulations are so extensive and so many laws are in place that not only are alternatives impossible but people become dependent on the government for all their needs. In a pandemic this empowers the government during and after to such a point that it is impossible to turn off the spigot of dependence.

Lock in Hospitals of World War Two

See the rest here

About Kym Robinson

Some times a coach, some times a fighter, some times a writer, often a reader but seldom a cabbage. Professional MMA fighter and coach. Unprofessional believer in liberty. I have studied, enlisted, worked in the meat industry for most of my life, all of that above jazz and to hopefully some day write something worth reading.

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