When I first started writing about the Australian property bubble in 2003 I knew it was big. But even I didn’t think it would reach its current absurd proportions. The bubble has now engulfed not just our economy but our politics, our media, our social structure and entire strategic outlook. Not one of these is defensible in terms of the national interest but together they converge on Australian disintegration:
- The economy is now a hollowed out wasteland of finance, speculation and consumption. Other than dirt, we do nothing else.
- Politics is now warped completely around the bubble with elections won and lost on house prices alone. Policy is forgotten.
- The duopoly of Australian media is focused entirely on maximising for sale listings for Domain and realestate.com.au. It has become a bald-faced real estate propaganda machine.
- Multi-culturalism is being increasingly strained as immigration is sustained at economically destructive levels purely to support house prices.
- ANZUS is now fundamentally undermined by the “citizenship exports” sector that drives house prices and construction and brings with it a “hard-edged” Chinese soft power push.
The Australia that I grew up in was based upon the principle of the “fair go” balanced against a vibrant and mixed competitive market economy, of policy made in the national interest, of successful multi-culturalism within a liberal Anglosheric context, and of unshakable faith in the US as our strategic partner in the world. Now, thanks to the bubble:
- The “fair go” is dead.
- The US alliance is dying.
- Multi-culturalism is under assault.
- Liberalism and the market economy have been subsumed by specufesting.
Australia has been engulfed by a bubble so complete that the place I once knew has asphyxiated inside of it. How much of this is cyclical and how much structural?
The fair go should survive the bubble when it busts. It is still apparent in electoral mythologies and our brilliant volunteerism. It is the central tenet of our culture so, even if buried for now, it should reassert itself when conditions change.
Multi-culturalism can’t die. It is a fact. But it might fragment and descend into more frequent violence. Australians are probably too lazy for an outcome like the social fracturing underway in Europe but I can foresee increasing levels of urban conflict such as that we saw in the Cronulla riots some years ago.
Liberalism and the market economy appear to be in structural decline. That is a global phenomenon as the globalisation dreams of yesteryear collapse into today’s Balkanised plutocracies. As the global depression marches on, and East steadily assumes power over West, further retreat is assured.
Which leads me to the last and perhaps biggest question of all. Will Australia’s withdrawal from ANZUS and the US hegemony also weaken our cultural and political affiliations with said nation? Is it a cyclical or structural retreat and what influence will it have over all of the other changes listed?
Who can say? If Australia continues down it’s current path and into the embrace of Chinese economic imperialism then why would it not also take on the trappings of our new Great and Powerful friend? Sub-altern nations tend to reflect the systems of their rulers. That appears to be what has happened to the Philippines, where an elected leader has damn near fortified a police state and turned himself directly into a Chinese mini-me.
Is it really so unimaginable that Australia, too, become nothing more than a politically vacuous Chinese sock puppet? Fast forward twenty years when Sydney and Melbourne are one third Asian populations and policy revolves heavily around their relationship with Beijing. When a Chinese blue water navy vies with the US at every juncture. When the Australian economy is so completely integrated with the Chinese on every front that resistance is futile. When the measures of economic success in every field are determined by Chinese fashion or patronage. When the last Australian prime minister declares himself in favour of the US in a struggle for naval rights over the Coral Sea but China imposes crippling economic sanctions, engineering regime change to the sympathetic and captured Opposition.
I’m not so sure that any of the Australia I once knew will survive our current path.