It goes without saying that even a book of 600 pages could not encapsulate the vast array of seen and unseen causes driving historical change, much less a single blog post.
Yet there exists a leading principle, a constant, through which many modern developments are implemented. For want of a better term, this principle could be referred to as ‘the manufacturing of consent’. Here ‘the manufacturing of consent’, refers to the process by which governments obtain popular consent to implement proposed ends; before enacting policies that far exceed the length and ambit of the initial consent.
When faced with crisis, more or less following the same pattern, modern governments actuate historical change by enacting these steps:
- In order to solve a crisis, government (and the media) garners public support for taking bold and decisive action;
- This decisive action is taken;
- This decisive action outlasts the length of the crisis; and
- The decisive action becomes permanent and induces a historical change, despite it not initially being sold to the public as a lasting resolution.
To give three leading examples of this principle applied in practice, it has facilitated:
- the American empire in Europe;
- multiracial Australia; and
- mass government surveillance of the citizenry.
The American empire in Europe
Following the attack on Pearl Harbour by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service on December 7, 1941, the United States plunged into World War Two. By virtue of the Japanese alliance with Germany, the United States entered into not only the Asian-Pacific but also the European theatre of war.
Immediately after the Allies defeated Germany in April 1945, American troops occupied Germany and broader Western Europe, ostensibly under the pretence of dispensing Marshall Plan aid.
Following this immediate post-war period, American troops continued to occupy Western Europe. By then, the occupation was justified under the guise of counteracting Soviet communism.
But when in 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, American troops continued to occupy Western Europe, most notably Germany. Where they remain to this day, 79 years on from Pearl Harbour, long after any residue of the initial threats–World War Two and the Third Reich–have ceased to exist.
The late 1960’s and early-70’s was certainly a time of revolutionary, left-wing turmoil. Some of this sentiment was justified, however, especially as it related to the war crimes being perpetrated against the people of Vietnam. Many of which, inculpated the government of the United States and to a lesser extent Australia.
Proceeding from this moral culpability, a particular humanitarian reaction arose on the part of white Australians. Because of our national responsibility in destabilising Vietnam, good conscience now obliged us to provide a safe haven for those desperate, war-ravaged people. This charitable impulse, underscored by traumatic war images transmitted through newly coloured TV’s, convinced Australians that the White Australia policy had to be altered–with a specific exception prescribed for Vietnamese refugees.
As such and in contravention of the long-standing White Australia policy, during the early 1970’s, Vietnamese refugees began coming to Australia. However, what was first sold as a specific exception catering to the specific needs of Vietnamese refugees, turned out to be nothing of the sort.
It was not just Vietnamese refugees who subsequently came to Australia; the permanent admission of many other non-white groups soon became an enduring rule. Such have been these numbers that in certain areas–Lakemba in Sydney, Box Hill in Melbourne, Balga in Perth–traditional Australians have been effectively divested of the public square, living as minorities in a country that was expressly intended to be for them.
Government surveillance of the citizenry
In April of this year, in a stated attempt to “flatten the curve,” the Australian government announced its ‘COVIDsafe’ application. This application, according to Scott Morrison, which gave the federal government unprecedented powers of surveillance, had a singular and meritorious purpose. Which was, to “stop the spread of coronavirus.”
Putting aside the question of whether this application actually stopped the spread of a single coronavirus case, in the last few months, domestic transmission of the virus has all but ceased.
Now that any serious risk has passed, is there any talk of the government discontinuing COVIDsafe, or same of the surveillance capabilities it led to?
Of course, no, nor are these government potencies ever likely to be abrogated. This is because when popular consent is manufactured, people quickly settle in and a new status quo prevails. As such, there exists no incentive for government to reduce the scope of their newly acquired power.
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