Economic Justice and the rise of the new Right

By Kat Moore


The new Right has recently come out against so called ‘free trade’ agreements representing a  colonisation of anti-free trade agreements values traditionally held by the left and how our long standing understanding of economic justice differs from right wing ideas
 
The news that newly instated President Donald Trump had commenced proceedings to extract the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership was bittersweet. The wash of relief that six years of campaigning by the community were finally over was stained by its intrinsic link with Trump’s election; with increased violence against minority groups and the environment.
 
But beyond personal discomfort, what are the broader implications of the right’s taking up of anti-free trade agreement rhetoric? What does it mean that people like Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson are stepping into an economic space traditionally occupied by the left?

It is a well-established theory that support for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump stemmed in many ways from the one phenomenon - a backlash against the establishment, fuelled by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs - namely increasingly restricted access to food, shelter, healthcare and education. The points of difference emerge where it becomes apparent that Sanders and his ilk approach this from a position of positive change, whereas Trump (and equally Hanson and others in Australia) utilise fear mentality and language to push their position.

The new Right portrays itself as anti-establishment, and places the blame for the hardships experienced by the working class squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats. As the party of the establishment, says the neo-right, the Democrats are responsible for increased globalisation, immigration, and other such threats to the working class. Free trade is seen as intrinsically linked to globalisation, complicit in these threats. The corporatisation championed by the Republican Party tends to be ignored in this context.

Whilst these are often not the most comfortable of allies, we have however seen many times over the indisputable benefits of putting differences aside (significant though they may be) and focusing on a shared goal in order to achieve lasting change. As in the case of the recent #VicGasBan campaign, these seemingly unlikely alliances can, in fact, serve to bring us closer together and create meaningful change.

 

Contact Kat Moore to get involved in the Economic Justice collective: kat.moore@foe.org.au