‘I Call ‘Pigsh*t!: Helen Razer On The ‘Historic’ Wentworth Win


Following the “historic” “victory” of ruling class ideas in Wentworth, Helen Razer counts the loss to the nation and measures the volume of pigshit.

At the time of writing, it is the time of writing pigshit. Pigshit for Wentworth and for Wentworth’s Kerryn Phelps will be produced until the “progressive” and “typically Australian” press can loosely produce no more. This will take days and it could take weeks, but nothing can stop piggy now. There’s a parasite feeding on a host of writers’ insides. It got into the guts of Richard Flanagan.

Over at the Graun, Flanagan appears to argue a sane case: immediate and effective action by the state for climate change. Look to see this parasite attach its foul insanity to the sanest, purest cause, but careful not to get too close. The parasite can survive for many years inside big pigshit and I don’t want you contaminated.

“A politician can destroy our future”. This is one of many lies told by what we will now call the Phelps And Her Ruling Class lies infection, PARCH for short. Let’s inspect the sample.

To say that one politician can destroy our future is to imply that one politician can save it. It may suggest that Phelps is that one politician, which is a suggestion Phelps herself has made. Speaking to the broader moment of climate change, she said at the start of her campaign that this was “a unique moment in Australian political history where one vote will make a difference to legislation going forward.”

Tasteful power move, Kez. To identify the moment as unique, not yourself, is to appear very humble — a tricky thing for the right-wing politician to achieve, and especially so for old foot-in-the-mouth. Phelps must have paid good money for this speech and huge money for her whole post-#MAGA makeover. 2015 Phelps says granting leave to survivors of domestic abuse will “destroy small business” and that “it is not OK to paralyse a major city” to protest closure of remote Aboriginal communities. 2018 Phelps says much nicer things.  She bought a lot of good advice on not sounding so much like Trump, while supporting a Trump-style corporate tax cut entirely.

The parasite class bought a whole lot with its wealth and all its lovely tax breaks. They bought us our delusion that “a politician can destroy the future”, which is also the delusion that “a politician” or any number of them can do anything for the future at all.

Richard Flanagan got the PARCH bad. Either that or he’s always been a gobshite who believes that liberal democracy was created to serve the many and not, as it was, to protect the powerful few. Perhaps Flanagan forgot that the political class was once pretty frank about its job of “defence of the rich against the poor”. Perhaps Flanagan forgot that the state has spent 40 years legislating the last of its power away. All power to destroy, or improve, the future was given by the state to the market.

We call this gift ‘neoliberalism’. And Margo Kingston calls Kerryn Phelps a “gift” to “liberal democracies”.

Kerryn Phelps is a gift to the corporations whose taxes she has sworn to cut. Her neoliberal prescriptions are a gift to no-one but the few. And, yes it’s nice she sounds less like a ruling class bigot and more like a ruling class apologist. You can call the pigshit merde de porc, but it tends to taste the same.

Let’s accept that Phelps has come to Medicare, whose bulk-billing she criticised strongly as the President of the AMA. Let’s agree she has recently come to be troubled about offshore detention. Let’s say she is truly compassionate and not the product of focus group research. Let’s call her a compassionate neoliberal.

Now, let’s check to see if neoliberalism looks any different. Perhaps it has developed the capacity to act on its compassion.

No. It’s the same. Women with broken bones must still get to work to serve it and the protest of Aboriginal people remains unwelcome in the CBD during business hours.

You can’t reason with neoliberalism. You can’t ask it for compassion. You can’t expect it to do anything a human might do. You can only expect it to deepen the crisis felt keenly by many humans, if not by the Wentworth well-to-do.

Independent, Dr Kerryn Phelps, pictured on October 20 from ABC TV news coverage.

Kingston has the PARCH like nobody’s business. The parasite ties the guts of her argument for Phelps into an even tighter knot than the one that finds Flanagan saying that one neoliberal politician can make a difference and one division can be that difference and so on. Flanagan’s popular pigshit about the “power of the people to change!” is a 101 misunderstanding. Kingston has done time in the prison of parliamentary press and this makes her misunderstanding more advanced.

Kingston is one of the few mainstream political writers to explore the impact of poverty on the opinions of a voter. But, she only goes so far.

Kingston, who I presume identifies as white, has previously asked readers to understand the “tipping point” at which impoverished white people become racist. She can get as far as “white poverty creates racism”, but misses out on “white wealth created racism” and does not ask “what created poverty” at all. She shows no more interest in the creation of white poverty than in the creation and 230-year maintenance of Black poverty. Poverty just happens, and is not imposed by His Majesty’s armed men. Poverty is just bad luck.

No. Poverty is not an accident. It is a conscious creation which, in the case of invasion, demands a founding act of brutal theft, and in the case of neoliberalism, years of labour theft and rent-seeking and, in the Australian case of neoliberalism, years of building up the private debt of ordinary people to the point that it’s the highest in the world.

That’s your neoliberalism. That’s your “sensible economics” Kingston praises. That’s your lot when state power is the instrument to guarantee and never to diminish the power the ‘free’ market holds.

Neoliberalism has changed history for the worse. No matter how many times Kingston, the ABC or Flanagan insist that the neoliberal Kerryn Phelps will change it for the better, she will still be the neoliberal Kerryn Phelps.

Phelps will not change history. She will maintain it, and she sure as pigshit ain’t the antidote to the “tipping point” of racism. One white lady learning to keep her trap shut does not a new dawn herald.

Phelps is just as The Daily Telegraph described her, “intensely business-focused”. Phelps is just the sort of neoliberal that the Tele loves to cheer. That there was no earnest attempt made by Murdoch to attack Phelps and that the worst thing that the Tele piece could say is that she might vote with the Greens one day is a fucking good sign that she won’t.

Phelps is “historic” and will shake things up? Please. She gave her voting preference to the Liberal Party. She has said many times that she will be a “stabilising” force in parliament. She has previously considered running as a Liberal candidate. Sydney Mayor Clover Moore said this June that she was “more comfortable with the conservatives”. Phelps has been friendly with Alan Jones and very effing friendly to “complementary medicine” businesses and remains so openly hostile to the foes of wealth creation, we can be pretty sure that she is as likely to “change history” as neoliberalism is to fix the weather.

Media can endow Kerryn Phelps with the power to “change history” all month. But, she’s ‘historic’ only on a technicality — whoop-de-doo, the first in a seat hitherto occupied only by the pure descendants of Robert Menzies. History is changing all by itself.

Historic? The neoliberal Phelps and all neoliberal others will continue their desperate service to the status quo by any means necessary. They will conceal their hatred for the working poor, the indebted, the beaten women or the protesting Aboriginal people if they must. They will do anything it takes to create wealth, which depends now, as it did in 1788, on the creation of poverty.

For Flanagan and for Kingston and for so many others, analysis is “post-material”. This is to say, class doesn’t form part of their understanding of poverty, wealth, Wentworth, Phelps, politics, renewables or anything at all. They deny material reality so that they can say “renewables are great for the economy!” and not question the nature of that economy, or even bother to ask the question: does something have to be “great for the economy” to qualify as great?

The “sensible” economy. The neoliberal kind that will keep on deepening the chaos with its every act of theft.

Flanagan depends on this class-denialism to make ruling class power seem benign. That Wentworth is the wealthiest division doesn’t matter to him. ‘People power’ is what changes the world, not powerful people! And, if you don’t believe this, look at how all those powerful people came together to keep an advertisement off the sails off the Sydney Opera House! That’s real social change. For more of it, come to the Sydney Opera House in March where we will celebrate woman power, with generous support from our sponsors at Westpac. Onward, one per cent sisters. Onward with the neoliberal revolution, smash the patriarchy with predatory lending.

History. Fuck off. An actual socialist candidate elected to Victorian parliament? That would be historic. A neoliberal in tasteful garments representing Wentworth is just some more historical pigshit.

So many in the press permit themselves to believe that Phelps doesn’t still have the box her “progressive” campaign commitments came in. It is their post-material belief that this newly renewable passion of hers will not perish the second it threatens the wealth of her constituents. Or that the wealth of her constituents, the nation’s very wealthiest, can be accumulated and maintained without touching coal, detention management, cut-price private aged care facilities funded by the state etc.

I make the restrained and sober case against such defence of neoliberalism and did not tell all Australian writers to take this hidebound copy of Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism and fuck themselves with it. AT LEAST until such time as they become aware that the imperial class is fucking us all.

As I have been so polite, perhaps they will see that this not as a Great Phelps Moment but as a terrible moment felt all ‘round the West. They will see this as a moment comparable to quite a few others in history, and it has been critically understood in books. They will read books and learn terms like class war, crisis, the interregnumanomie or a thing called a double-movement.

Or, they could all keep swallowing and making more pigshit. Either way.

Helen Razer in an Australian writer, author and avowed Marxist. She is based in Melbourne and writes regularly for Crikey.com