Many years ago, our school class (cannot remember which one) had a student teacher, who introduced to us the concept of ‘Austerica’, an amalgam of the names Australia and America. It is a word coined by the architect Robin Boyd in his book ‘The Australian Ugliness’ from 1960. It referred to the slavish adoption by Australians of American styles in everything from neon-lighting, outlandish fins on cars, to some of the cheapest and silliest mass-produced items. It was later applied to the adherence by Australia to American economic imperialism and foreign policy1. That still endures, despite clear evidence that following these unquestioningly is a recipe for disaster.
Historian Geoffrey Serle expanded the concept into ‘Austerica Unlimited’ but that never really caught on. His thesis was that we had exchanged the British neo-colonial situation for an American one; that we had abandoned the prospect of independent nationhood; and that we were going to become just slightly different sorts of Americans. As Serle said: “The entertainment, hotel and advertising industries have succumbed almost entirely to the cheapest, most meretricious aspects of American life, and flaunt their debased, shoddy, second-hand gimmicks as ‘everything desirable, exciting, luxurious and enviable’. It is sad that the United States should export so easily so many of its worst features; and sadder still that these should catch on most readily in Australia.”2
As if to emphasise this slavish adherence to American idiocy, throughout the Murdoch media empire in Australia, there have been supporters of the Trump presidency. This is despite the fact that any, even a superficial, reading of his history would demonstrate what a universally ignorant, dangerously narcissistic, pathological liar he was; and that any observation of the ethos and actions of the Trump White House would show how incompetent, criminal and childishly thin-skinned Trump and his malevolent crew were.3-6
In addition to supporting Trump, these Murdoch idiots have also started importing the same supposedly disparaging epithets from the far right of the Republican Party and their nutty supporters. Importing the drivel that passes for political discussion in the US is so extraordinarily funny, when our own is just as vacuous.
Bronwyn Bishop, the intermittent visitor to the Sky After Dark menagerie often refers to socialists as a warning to the nation. However, as in the United States, Bishop’s use of the term ‘socialist’ is for anyone not a rabid uber-capitalist. Believe it or not, she actually said “Malcolm Turnbull brought socialism into the Liberal Party and the legacy of that has to be buried. He’s the one who made us completely reliant on China, he’s the one who signed the French submarine deal, he’s the one who ratified the Paris agreement and he’s the one who made the doctrine of climate change one that decimated our industry”7. It is clear she has no idea what socialism is, and is more motivated by hatred of Malcolm Turnbull, than any economic understanding. Socialism is by definition a political economic and social philosophy mostly characterised by social ownership of the means of production, and democratic control or workers’ self-management of enterprises8. The way socialism is used by the RWNJs in Australia is in the sense that it is a combination of anything designed to decrease inequality, in reference to anything the Labor Party does, or anyone who points out that for most of her working life she has been on the public teat9.
It was the idiotic Victorian state Liberal MP, Tim Smith, who, during the lockdown in response to the second wave of Covid-19 in that state, referred to the actions by the government as being like communist Eastern Europe, and called the Premier, Daniel Andrews, “Chairman Dan”, implying that the Labor Premier was running the state in the style of an oppressive communist regime10. That is the closest RWNJs will ever get to returning to the ‘reds under the bed’ panic of the 1950s, as they are starting to realise that communism effectively collapsed under the weight of its own inconsistencies, some 30 years ago.
Another derogatory term much used by RWNJs in the United States is ‘liberal’. It used to mean laissez-faire economics and free trade; science-based enlightenment; democracy and the supreme rights of the individual; and religious freedom. It has now been turned into a derogatory term drained of all political meaning by the RWNJ media faces who simply use it as an insult11. It’s funny how that one hasn’t been imported to Australia.
- Davison, G., Hirst, J.B., Macintyre, S., 1998. The Oxford Companion to Australian History. Oxford University Press, Melbourne 716p.