- by Eileen Whitehead
- The Guardian
- Issue #1962
How can Australia’s subservience to the United States be explained? At the very centre of this must be our mutually historical beginnings born out of British invasion and colonisation with the concomitant brutal dispossession of the indigenous land and culture in order to prevail. But the Americanisation of Australia since the end of the Second World War has presaged the change in our relationship with the world and transformed our economy and society. Unfortunately, the re-shaping of our economic and political culture has brought about a messianic mindset – inherited from the US – that only western “civilisation” can save the world.
We have gone from being an arm of the British Empire to serving the interests of American capital. Whereas, originally, Australian capitalism grew from the dispossession of Indigenous land and its resources, we are now the avid worshippers at the altar of American capitalism. However, we need Asia’s growing wealth in order to sustain our Western way of life and rely on US hegemony to safeguard our markets and capital investments. Hence the recent ‘QUAD’ “jamboree” being proposed to form a NATO-style alliance between Australia, Japan, India, and the US in the Indo-Pacific region, which is simply an alliance to make sure China is brought to heel.
Australians have seen their power diminish with the expansion of capitalist activities aided by its neo-right political elite. Under both the LNP and Labor, we’ve seen a marked decline in our democracy and a rise of the suppressive powers of the state. This is largely due to the adoption of a US model of economic and political culture. We only have to look at our universities teaching US business and management values and practices and the political influence of neo-conservative think-tanks on our politicians.
Post-WW2 the US and its key allies have acted to politically stabilise the rest of the world utilising their military but have achieved the exact opposite. This control is vital to safeguard their hold on the global financial market and secure vast investment funds. The tentacles of American economic and military influence are global. With all our concern about China’s influence on Australia, it’s nothing compared to American influence. Chinese investment is $3.4bil and American investment is $860bil, which is probably why, when Washington says “jump,” we jump.
Privatisation is the new buzzword giving power to corporations to control governments. As Dr Erik Paul noted, “Australia’s market democracy is fuelled by postmodern greed and the accumulation of more wealth.” We are told that the solution to rising problems, such as unemployment, poverty, and destruction of the environment, is to pursue economic growth and keep consuming! It’s become our national policy – but the only people benefiting are the elite; the rest of us see our wage packets declining in line with public education, transport, and health funding, which are the responsibility of our government (Sound like America?).
Furthermore, the US global free trade agenda sets sovereign states against each other in geopolitical struggles for diminishing resources. As the world order changes, the US, in order to remain “top dog” in the world economy, is becoming more militaristic and using more sophisticated weapons systems. It’s already using predatory policies regarding the global economy, which could involve Australia becoming part of its protective, military shield. US affluence and mass consumption are kept in place by its military-industrial mega-machine, which has become largely autonomous, which according to economist John K Galbraith, is “standing above and apart from democratic control.”
The events of 9/11 have eroded US – and Australia’s – democratic foundations with legislation restricting citizens’ human rights. As Norman Mailer once said, the “combination of the corporation, the military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports has set up a pre-fascist atmosphere in America.” US imperial ambitions have now become more overt – invading Iraq and Afghanistan – illustrating its plans to re-shape the politics of the Middle East. As the world’s dominant military power, the US intends to respond to any challenge to its hegemony, and our “joined at the hip” relationship will see Australia incapable of withdrawing from American policies and being dragged into even more US-validated conflicts.
We have learnt nothing from being tied to the UK’s apron strings and have just replaced one colonial ruler with another.