15 October 2009
The Nationalist And Patriotic Movement In Western Australia: Which Way Forward?
Source Australia First Western Australia.
Interview with Dr. Jim Saleam and Brendan Gidley, October 12 2009
The Western Australian patriotic and nationalist movement seems to be in flux at the moment and we considered this overview from a position in the Eastern states might be of assistance in defining issues and groups. Jim and Brendan speak as participants in the struggle and as members of the Australia First Party national management committee. Their frankness is noted.
AF (WA): Where do you see us Westralian nationalists and patriots placed at this point in time?
Reply: There are big and available issues that could be used to mobilize a new force in Western Australia. Your State has problems with over-population, the degradation of soils and water shortage in the South-East, the political corruption, the free-trade driven mining ‘boom’ which benefits the multinationals and their contract labour – and Chinese imperialism lurking to seize resources. There is a combative unionist rank and file which might just, with the current Labor betrayal of the true national interest, decide to fight on against “work place reform”, foreign takeover and cheap labour. There is increasing youth unemployment and the utterly odious overseas student program which is robbing youth of an education. There is the multinational and big company attack upon Australian truck owners and drivers. Therefore, clearly, there is a substantial political base to be organized.
Sadly right now, activist nationalist forces are weak on the ground. One Nation has a residual structure left over from the splits and troubles of the past and there are loose people about. Australia First has members, but little structure as yet. We are moving on that. There may be other circles of youth and people meeting informally in Perth to discuss issues and there is the odd independent Web Site. We hear too that Graeme Campbell is still active. However, there is no decisive leadership in your State that can ‘rally the forces’ so to speak. We must build that.
There are signs of a turnaround. Yet, we suspect the real change won’t occur until some groups exhaust their current line and embrace the Australia First position. We predict a radicalisation of the One Nation rank and file but only after the electoralist line runs its course and while Australia First members forge a more interventionist force, one which goes beyond electioneering towards community action, grassroots action in schools, factories, universities and at street level – a genuine, organized, political structure which truly offers a pole of attraction for these other patriots.
The problem with some people is – electoralism. They don’t get it. Electoral participation should be just one part of the overall strategy of action. They will tailor policy and activity, organization and finance, to this one thing. Yet, experience teaches and the next Federal election will (we hate to say it) see much of ‘our side’ restricted to the 3% range (that’s the academic definition of a fringe party), but at least we will notice a base exists and be able to move on later. We will be able to take on these people and lead them in struggle.
Our problems in Western Australia derive of the ups and downs of a broad scene. We inherit from that. Australia First will liquidate this past and create a new future for our nationalist cause.
AF (WA): So, is our difficulty one that derives from history? And if so, how far back should we look to get at the problems?
Reply: A bit of history may be in order. We need to take the long view.
The earliest nationalists in WA got together around the issue of immigration. There were many efforts in the period from 1968 until 1982. In that year, National Action appeared in Perth as a summation of these efforts. The old League Of Rights was still active and often had a lot of good things to say. However in 1985, Jack van Tongeren, founded the rather misnamed ‘Australian Nationalists Movement’. He ultimately soured the field first with his violence campaign in the period 1988-89 and then with his trial 1989-90. The State government relied on that to pass draconian laws against freedom of speech on immigration matters and to stigmatize oppositional groups, particularly on the immigration question, as either crypto-terrorists, or neo-nazis, or just beyond the pale of polite discussion. That has lingered long and just a few years back these political laws were given tougher penalties. Recently, a Christian man was seized at his home for making a video supporting the Palestinian cause; he was ‘charged’ with racism!! KGB? Gestapo? That vile law must be campaigned against.
We recall the next real initiatives came with weak sections of Confederate Action Party and the Australians Against Further Immigration (AAFI) in the years 1991-95. Then Graeme Campbell founded Australia First from his base in Kalgoorlie in 1996. There was the emergence of a new cadre of people. That was a real step forward. And then, crisis, the rise and fall of One Nation and the massive loss of members and resources after a good start. etc. The party with no plan, no strategy, went for the mainstream with untrained leaders.. Disaster.
That’s the potted history. But we have to know it. We can learn.
What are the problems? Well, there is a stifling atmosphere of failure. Mainly electoral failure, but also organizational failure. Graeme lost his Kalgoorlie Federal seat in 1998, thanks to One Nation’s then-bosses David Oldfield and Pauline Hanson. The other two One Nation upper house reps went out years back. They were credible players, but their electoral base was gone. No one group has managed to gain hegemony over the scene since. Graeme went into One Nation in 2001 and was finally pushed out. It was all a sad waste of time.
There remains a weakness of ideology. Graeme Campbell put up the best synthesis which combined some enviro-nationalist ideas from AAFI (immigration is an environmental disaster!), with the old Labour style (the unity of the producers against corporate capitalism), with an awareness of the need for a new take of issues like free trade, open-borders and the defence of democratic freedom. That is the true meaning of the word ‘populism’; a nationalist populism was forming up. That synthesis is still the best one to get people into action. However, it also requires a strong set of core nationalist principles inspiring an activist cadre of people, who put these ideas into campaigns and policies.
At the deeper level, we need to ensure the whole movement is firmly grounded in Australian history and traditions. It must answer the questions of national identity and heritage, affirm the native-soil European heritage as the essential heritage. In the former movements of Australian nationalism we locate our tasks: to win national independence, to create a society that establishes fairness and true social-equality and a state that gives personal freedom. To us, this is the vision splendid that old-Labour a century ago attempted and which we must finally win. We have a historical mission. Groups like the One Nation do not. We say it is the mission that inspires the will to act, to win victories – and to take defeats.
AF (WA): Can the patriotic forces be united? How?
Reply: The first thing is amnesty for all decent people against the inevitable ‘sleights’ that have gone on in any organisation from the past. We must put aside all pettiness. If too in the past, there were cutting ideological or political questions at the core of earlier disunion, we need to look again at how these things worked and see how important it all was and how it impacts on getting unity now. People should meet and talk.
The aim must be to consolidate a nationalist party on the ground with a structure and a presence. That does not mean unity with just anyone. It means uniting the best, the positive people.
This can be done over the next twelve months. Australia First can be built ideologically, politically and organizationally to be the new command centre of national resistance. This coming election – as noted - will kill off a section of the past. Hansonism without Hanson will be gone and the temptation to see politics as a contest to provide folks with an electoral alternative – put aside. Australia First will thus – fill the gap.
AF (WA) : Obviously, you propose a different model of behaviour?
Reply: Very much so. This model is hardly novel to us, but for many it is ‘new’ and may be daunting to some.
It is called the ‘three tier model’. It simply means that an organization (‘party’) is three things simultaneously: a machine to contest elections, including local government elections to win publicity and to meet and organize new people ; a staff that organizes campaigns and activism in the street, factory, school, university or association ; it is a school that trains people in their cultural identity and political faith, whilst arguing these ideas in various ways and defending the Australian historical creation. Such a party integrates its ideology with a politics which defines who can be mobilised for change into a structure which is inspired culturally and ‘ideologically’ to act in the Australian people’s service.
In the next few weeks two crucial new Australia First pamphlets will argue this case. We intend that the party adopts these statements of general principle and acts on them in a united way.
The three tier model cures the nationalist movement of all illusions as to its purpose and promotes clear thinking. It preserves the movement which is more important ultimately than any electoral contest. Indeed, it transforms elections into a method to build the movement.
Has the three tier model ever been applied in Australia? In the past, the once great nationalist Labour Party did that. It integrated 100 years ago a political league, unions, education and cultural societies into one entity. Some minor groups (like today’s Greens who have an utterly non Australian ideology) still adapt the general framework of this method, although they apply it to their own goals. It works.
AF (WA): Possibly the WA patriotic scene has its share of odd birds. How does one deal with fractious people?
Reply: It is never easy. Sometimes it’s better not to try to integrate some people into the one party. Their interests and yours might be better served by staying separate. Indeed, in the case of educational and similar ideological forces, that is more positive because in that case the people are positive but are simply taking another road.. As for truly fractious people, one needs to utterly avoid them. If they join you, get them out. Our side has paid a heavy price for the presence of this type. It is time to become professional in the area of ‘human resources’.
AF (WA): Do you think in terms of laying down the law to all patriotic groups and people?
Reply: No. Not all groups are political in character. As noted, some are cultural, or sub-cultural, or educational and so forth. It is imperative to have a friendly attitude towards all organisations and groups that have any sort of a pro Australian perspective. We have to work on that in some cases, but it is worth it, absolutely.
The riot act need only ever be read to obviously disruptive individuals or to organisations which refuse to deal reasonably with ourselves. And to anyone, who knowingly continues to open doors to them. Thankfully, there won’t be much of that in short term, but it may occur again.
AF (WA): What role for Australia First?
Reply: There must be a small organizational core of people who devote a sizeable portion of their lives to the struggle. In other words, we favour the support of a semi-professional core of permanent activists. With younger leaders and a couple of older staff, this core could be assembled. We need to be able not only to perform the very necessary bureaucratic functions of organization, but to be able to respond to public events and otherwise so as to rally supporters to activist campaigns.
As time goes on we will surely prove our worth in Western Australia. We call on all nationalists to get behind the party. The future is now in your hands.
Thankyou, Jim and Brendan.