The Abbott form of Social Engineering

I am grateful to John Lord for allowing me to reproduce his frightening piece, first published today on The AIMN.


In recent weeks I have written on three subjects relating to what I shall loosely call “The Psychology of Politics.” The first was titled Hidden Persuaders, the second You’re Being Manipulated and the third Political Lies and Who Tells Them. This one deals with Social Engineering.

This week I posted on Facebook the following statement.

“I have seen many governments come and go in my lifetime. All incoming governments naturally implement their policies within the constraints that exist within the two Australian Houses of Parliament.

The Abbott Government, however, seems to have embarked on some form of social engineering.”

I was taken to task for this statement by one person in particular and I told him I was writing an extended piece this week. To put my piece in some sort of context I begin with some quotes.

In one of his most influential essays, (Milton) Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as “the shock doctrine”. He observed that:

“Only a crisis – actual or PERCEIVED – produces real change”. . . A variation on Machiavelli’s advice that “injuries” should be inflicted “all at once” – Naomi Klein, “Shock Doctrine”

In other words, manufacture a sense of crisis and you can get away with anything starting with maximum harm. Therefore, the conservatives are manufacturing a non-existent debt crisis.

Margret Thatcher said this (paraphrased):

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich”.

Abraham Lincoln said this:

“Labor came before capital and is not related to it. Capital is what’s acquired from labour, and would never have come about if it were not for labour. Therefore, labour is superior to capital and deserves the higher significance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt said this:

They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers . . . call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.”

This is one of mine:

“The GST burdens the poor and those with the least capacity to pay. It discriminates against the poor and the pensioners who are living a hand-to-mouth existence and spending the bulk of their income on the necessities of life—food, clothing, rent, heating, power etc”.

Before addressing the issue of Social Engineering I should say exactly what I think a Government should be regardless of its ideology.

Good government is about making and implementing decisions that serve the common good. That give security to the people it governs. Follows the rule of law and is truthful about its intentions. When making decisions it must be responsive to the will of the people. It should allow its citizens to be participatory in the function of government. It should be inclusive, equitable and supportive of the people’s right to know. By equity I mean the people have a right to a fair reward for the fruits of their labour. And above all it should be answerable to the people.

What is ‘Social (political) Engineering?’

Social Engineering is when a political party seeks to use selective deceptive, manipulative and insidious psychological techniques to influence and bring about a change in the attitudes of masses of people to its point of view.

Now let’s get to the crux of the matter. You cannot possibly believe in democracy if you believe that your party is the only one who should win. Therefore, any party who wins an election is entitled to govern.

My problem with the Abbott Government is that it has embarked on a programme that is ideologically targeted at changing the way we think. This is social engineering.

Tony Abbott, for six years in Opposition created a negative image of our nation. He has never had a positive word to say about his country. He uses simplistic slogans to talk about complex problems and in doing so suggests he has answers when he doesn’t. He has spread negativity like rust throughout the community. This is because he sees a need to promote a sense of crisis, an Armageddon about everything. Everything is wrong and he is the only one who can fix it. There is a budget crisis when none exists. There is a debt crisis (while adding to it) when none exists. There is a crisis about the cost of living when Australians have never had it better. It’s a deliberate tactic of social engineering. Create an illusion of disaster and people will believe the perception is in fact a reality. And of course keep on doing it when you attain government.

Another form of social engineering is making the people feel threatened. Tell them that the poor souls seeking asylum are below humanity, demonise them so that the people hate them. Take away all their rights and appeal to the base instincts of ordinary people and the racists. Apply a code of conduct and treat them like animals. Even take away the basic human right of association. Tell the people the absurd lie that their borders are under threat. And keep repeating the same slogans in government. Perpetuate the lie that you have stopped the boats when in all probability it was the other party’s policies that were responsible. It’s called social engineering.

The conservative Abbott Government has taken away from middle and low income earners, the School bonus and a superannuation discount to low income earners, mainly women. In addition they have blocked a pay rise to low income Child Care Workers. The annual small lump sum to pensioners to pay for unexpected bills was also abolished. And when the commission of audit reports I should think the assault on the middle and lower income earners will be on in earnest. The abandonment of all these benefits in the name of austerity is a smoke screen. It is taking from one group to give to another. The Paid Parental Leave Scheme comes to mind. Also the 15% tax rebate for the highest wage earners. This is not equity, it is social engineering. If the budget truly demands cuts, they should be equitable.

When a Government seeks to backtrack on election promises like the Gonski reforms and reimpose its own elitist inequitable policy with not the slightest thought for those who can least afford a better education: it is practising social engineering.

When it deliberately downgrades a policy like the NDIS on the basis of unaffordability but at the same time gives tax breaks to the wealthy industrialists including the richest women in the world: it is applying social engineering.

This Government came to office saying they were adult and trustworthy. That there would be no surprises. Yet what we have seen is an attack on the less well-off. It is making it very clear that there are untouchable cohorts and there are those that will have to support the untouchables.

The refusal to pay a miserly pay increase to Child Care Workers was an attack on Unionism. Taking money from aged care workers by dumping the Workforce Compact which provided a $1.2 billion fund to give aged care workers a much-needed 1% pay rise is another example.

The very premeditated, deliberate government induced exodus of GMH is not just the expulsion of the car industry but also a government attempt to rid the country of unions. There will be no government assistance for companies with union shops. It’s called social engineering.

If there were just a few instances of stamping a Governments ideological philosophy on the community you would say, fair enough. But there is a have, have-not form of serfdom running through this government’s work. They came to government without any policies and are more intent on destroying Labor’s legacy than governing for the common good.

We now have a Prime Minister for undoing, not for doing.

It seems the Abbott Government is attempting to socially engineer the minds of people. Nowhere is this more evident than its willingness to downgrade education and in particular, science. Any pretext to the scientific understanding of environmental impacts has been thrown out the window to appease the sponge of capitalism. We have seen in the past few days the reversal of Australia’s ocean reserves. A policy hailed throughout the world. God only knows what they intend for the Murray Darling.

To belittle science in order to create doubt in the community is social engineering of the very worst kind. And to suggest that excellent learning should only be available to the well-off is yet another example of social engineering.

In the area of communications we have a concerted attempt to eliminate the reasoned voice of opposing views. The dual attack on the ABC by the Murdoch Empire is an attempt to stifle debate. When a government condemns a perceived bias of one outlet without acknowledging the bias of another it is practicing social engineering

And when it appoints a person like Tim Wilson from the right wing think tank, IPA to the position of Australian Human Rights Commissioner at $330,000 a year (an institution that he and the IPA advocate eliminating) they are saying loud and clear that they are intent on telling you how to think. It’s called social engineering.

On his appointment he tweets this.

@Stimwilsoncomau: “To those who have welcomed my appointment, I give thanks. To those that have not, I welcome the chance to defend your free speech.”

Lying of course is the Social Engineers most effective tool. Throughout his career Tony Abbott has used this tool most effectively. He admits it and the people accept it but its effectiveness is in its persistency and continuity. Abbott has reached a stage in his Social Engineering where he is convincing people that truth is what he convinces us to believe rather than truth based on fact.

Here is an example:

“Let’s be under no illusion. The carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

The statement has no basis in fact.

Another tool of Social Engineering is secrecy and the Abbott Government has displayed a propensity for it. It’s called lying by omission.

We also see Social Engineering in policy and decision making. Here are a few: T

– The broken promise on the NBN will effectively mean that those who can afford it will become information rich and those who cannot will remain information poor.

= Done deals with every state and territory government to gut and downgrade national environment laws by giving approval powers to state premiers further erodes the public’s capacity to disagree. It removes the community’s right to challenge decisions where the government has ignored expert advice. By removing funding to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia it has taken away the participatory role of the people in government.

– By challenging the ACT Marriage Equality laws in the High Court it has ensured the ongoing discrimination against same-sex couples despite the vast majority agreeing with the proposition. By moving to repeal protections in the Racial Discrimination Act it is flaunting public opinion. By scrapping the Advisory Panel on Positive Aging, established to help address the challenges we will face in coming years as the number of older Australians grows it has taken away the voice of the people. And in abolishing the Climate Commission it has sought to silence science.

All of these things contribute to how we think act and feel. By manipulating society into thinking that the entire realm and ownership of knowledge is found in one ideology, one individual or cohort of individuals is a form of Social Engineering.

Collectively I believe these four pieces make a solid case that Abbott in Opposition and in Government is embarking on a course of Social Engineering. A course of inequality, of privilege and serfdom. Of manipulating society into believing that if the rich become richer their lot will advance at the same rate.

I remember Peter Costello being asked at the end of his tenure as Treasurer about the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. His answer was to say “but at least the poor have not become poorer.”

I will leave you to ponder that.

PS. And I didn’t even mention the malevolent treatment of women. Yet another example of Social Engineering.

31 comments on “The Abbott form of Social Engineering

  1. Your blog is an utterly depressing list of the negative actions the Abbott government has taken since gaining office, an election result engineered by the Murdoch press and big business. I thought Abbott was a quite dreadful leader of the opposition, a bully par excellence, and everything he has done as Prime Minister has confirmed that. No wonder the LNP in opposition didn’t want to explain their goals if they won office, they slid into government by deceit and deception. And shame on those members of the press corps who allowed this ignorant mob to gain office by not questioning them and fawning on their every utterance. God help Australia, because Abbott won’t.

  2. At which point in time will people open their eyes and stop the baby footing molly coddling crap that this govt wants to feed us? Abbott is intent on using fascist tactics and peoples blinkers aren’t even lifted! The polls reflect a small shift which indicates apathy by most Australians. It’s as if they’re already feeling defeated and can’t be stuffed anymore, resulting in the Abbott govt doing pretty much whatever he wants. Charmed.

  3. The grave element here is that you are being manipulated. You are not being informed. There is an agenda to change things in such a way as to make them irreversible. We are heading into fascism . You are losing your ability to reverse or review outcomes. Your voice is being silenced. Science is denied. Education of the masses is under threat. Read the signs and be worried.. Do something before it is too late.

  4. A great article John as were the other three. We live in scary times but through independent media outlets and blogs such as this we can and must fight against this insidious cancer that is destroying the fabric of our great society. Maybe John can do a follow up piece outlining ways to fight and nullify the effects of this attempt to manipulate, control us and silence any voice of opposition or dissent.

  5. Bob Lloyd: One of the ways in which we can resist is to keep blogging – the pen is still mightier than the sword, and through my own readings of both the blogosphere and the MSM, is that the voices of dissatisfaction and dissent are growing louder by the minute. The problem is, that while social media allows us to reach a wide audience, the push to turn the tide against the current dominance of monetarism as the central pillar of political ideology, is not cohesive. While social media can keep us informed and create flash crowds to protest, there is still not a firm political movement to give it ongoing legitimacy and strength.
    While there are many organizations such as Get-Up etc… through which people can band together and lobby for change, we are still reliant on the major political parties, which in the case of Australia, are simply different sides of the same coin of unrestricted capitalism. As election campaigns over the past decade have been fought out over economics and economically related issues, what is need is a change in the economic theory currently being applied which for the sake of simplicity, I’ll term ‘Friedmanomics.’ In order to overturn Friedmanomics, pressure must either be applied to existing parties (ALP, Greens) to adopt Modern Monetary Theory- sometimes called Neo-Chartalism or Neo-Keynesian economics, or to form a new political party whose aims are the restoration of controls and regulations of capitalism. If you would like to know more about Modern Monetary Theory, Bill Mitchells blog which is listed on the blogroll of this page is an excellent place to start.
    Other resources are You-tube which offers a 15 minute introduction and explains its theories in simple to understand terms. This is one solution. The other solution is of course to let the monetarists have their way and push the distribution of wealth exclusively into the hands of the top 1% of the population while the 99% go to the wall.

  6. The ultimate inevitable effect of oppressing a large section of the population is revolution. Sensible government maintain a good balance. WE were somewhere there for most of our post war history. This mob of right wing elementalist capitalists have snuck their plot under the electors gaze, (with a lot of help from their friends). More prisons and less education is proof of their intent to reduce living conditions of the lower socio economic groups to make the rich richer..

  7. “If the budget truly demands cuts, they should be equitable.”

    Reading this seemingly reasonable sentence nearly felled me. I wondered if the time spent reading further would be worth it.

    Without the manufactured “budget crisis” none of this government’s ideologically driven assaults on the “common good” would get out of the blocks.

    Whilst I thank John Lord for enumerating the extent of this government’s treason, the quoted sentence from his essay explains why the Abbott government is probably going to get away with it.

    The truth is the budget absolutely does not require cuts, equitable or otherwise! The deficit needs to doubled, not cut. The deficit is not a debt that ever has to be repaid. It’s just an accounting of a flow. I’m sure “our betters” understand this perfectly.

    If the Left can’t be bothered getting it’s head around some basic economics then it deserves to get shafted.

  8. Deceit is the cloak that hides the division of ideology used for the concentration of greed and power in the machination of social engineering to benefit the few.

  9. Mangrove Jack is !00% correct when he argues that the deficit should be doubled and used to fund (or re-fund) government services (the public service) and infrastructure such as roads, transport including rail and other services such as the NBN.
    The following link gives a simple guide to why and how this should be done!
    As for Hockey and his claims, like that old jingle for hair-cream used to run;
    Bullshit! – a $70b dab ‘ll do ya!

  10. With the recognition of the previous governments good standing with the ratings agencies we get very favourable interest rates that inflation nearly cancels out. When SHOCKEY loses this “concessional” rate that situation will be GONE for us.
    I’m not a betting person but IF I was I would lay one on that we won’t keep the AAA ratings for long. The LieNP will blame Labor but that would be calling all those who hailed “Swanny” as doing a good job as IDIOTS. The rest of the world has suffered and is coming out of it. JOE will probably put US into a disaster of HIS OWN making. Watching his performance so far he will have no trouble doing just that.

  11. Clarittee, there is a problem and this has been expressed also in the mainstream (Fairfax only of course) and this is that Abbott, having spent an extraordinary amount of time speaking in 3-word slogans that he has lead the electorate to believe that he can ALSO come up with 3-word solutions. So far, Abbott’s report card indicates canceling well, almost everything and as far as plans for the future, is his Green Army still a go-er??? I guess not….

    I have the economic understanding of a flea..but to me if you are say, a largish Cafe employing 12 chefs, 45 wait staff and 14 cleaners/kitchen hands – but then under the heading of saving money you proceed to sack 10 chefs and 24 wait staff – then the result is that you do not make much and end up with people who are unable to deliver much at all, but one hell of a lot of people to try to clean up the mess.

  12. Great analogy Carol, but you forgot to cut the wages for the remaining two chefs and also fire the twenty one waiting staff in order to keep costs down. Then you also fire the remaining cooks/kitchen hands and replace them with 457 visa holders who all live in a single room above the Caf.
    These now serve as your waiting staff in order to give them the opportunity to improve their training through multi-skilling.
    ps. Don’t forget to deduct their room and board from their wages as well!
    Finally, don’t forget to nominate yourself for an award for increased productivity from the Business Council of Australia. You’ll be on the cover of Forbes in no time!

  13. Clarittee,

    As much as I’d enjoy seeing this government cop some opprobrium for losing the AAA rating, the reality is they’d just sheet the blame back to Labor (as you suggest)

    This could indeed happen but the loss of our AAA rating will have no effect on federal debt through higher interest demands because Treasury dictates the dividend. The bond vigilantes do not get a say, unlike the situation with the embattled EU countries.

    The threats from the loss of our AAA rating one reads about in the MSM are a myth.

    Ratings agencies and higher interest rates

  14. “I have the economic understanding of a flea”

    Carol, already that puts you ahead of Hockey, Joyce, Cormann, Robb etc,

    (but we know you’re a lot smarter than that 🙂

    And Edward, that is seriously funny !

  15. Hey clarittee,

    Here’s a great little YouTube I came across explaining why the ratings agencies won’t affect the bond rate.

    The female interviewer couldn’t have been more annoying (or stupid) if she’d tried.

    You can safely substitute “Australia” for the US and Japan in this story because we have the same monetary system.

  16. Two high school students take on teacher over climate and win standing ovation

    This is another form of social engineering and I think I lost a old friend the other day because of it.

    For starters I will say this is from Jo Nova, a paid for by vested interest denier and who have been proven to peddle misinformation on climate change, and whose blog by the way won “Blog of the Year” for 2013. Tell me that isn’t rigged.

    An old friend who I haven’t seen in person for a number of years but still kept in contact with, recently spouted off in social media how great those school kids were for giving it to the “socialist” teachers and proving what bullshit is being spouted over climate.

    I politely pointed out in response that Jo Nova was a proven prevaricator and paid for pedlar of misinformation on the subject, and gave him several links on her and where she had been caught out in untruths and dodgy science. I also said that what those kids said to the teacher was done in ignorance and ideology, not on any sound factual or scientific basis.

    I won’t go into my friends outburst but will say that all those good times we shared together, the drinks in exotic and far flung dives and bars, and the times we had covered each other’s backs were thrown out the door in that tirade.

  17. Ignore that link I just posted folks. It’s the wrong one.

    Go to this playlist and select the 4th one down, “Mike Norman, US Debt is a Myth”

  18. Did it again. Apologies.

    If anybody is still interested google “Mike Norman: US Debt is a myth” and click on the link directly. That should work.

  19. ME, that’s really sad. It says a lot about the times we live in.

    I too have friends who deny that either CO2 can affect the Earth’s thermal balance, or if it can, it’s natural and so on. But so far we’ve kept it fairly civilised.

    Recently however I’ve noticed a shift in their position. There’s now a lot of common ground, and not just on this subject but politics.

    I suspect they’re being overwhelmed by the mounting physical evidence. Perhaps your friend will one day come around and all will be forgiven.

    I checked out your link. I thought this was priceless:

    there is some history with the boys and this teacher, she is a true socialist. One example of this is she told Jordan ‘His opinion is irrelevant, and only when you become an adult people will listen to what you have to say. Shut up, I am the TEACHER and you’re here to learn.’

    So this is what socialists do. I thought there was a bit more to it than that.

  20. That quote more describes a fascist MJ than a socialist.

    It never ceases to amaze me how the right get socialism and communism so wrong, even with the wealth of online information to look them up and find out what they truly are and how far away from them modern left wing politics is.

    On the other hand if you look up neo-fascism the move to that by extreme right wing politics is evident, and Abbott is getting their one step at a time.

    His latest disgrace through Morrison should have the international community coming down on him like a ton of shit, but hey won’t.

  21. Thanks very much for that Bacchy.

    That’s the guy I wanted.

    That quote more describes a fascist MJ than a socialist.

    Yes, ME, some of my primary school teachers were definitely nazis then.

    Somehow I doubt the exchange ever took place.

    Back to John Lord’s piece on social engineering, here’s a nice book-end for his article.

    Let’s rethink the idea of the state: it must be a catalyst for big, bold ideas

    PS. Latest Roy Morgan has the ALP increasing its lead over the Coalition.

  22. I get a chuckle when right wing morons conclude that, because the Hitler fascists called themselves National Socialists, then fascism must be left wing.

    It’s complete bullshit of course. Nazism is to socialism as the Liberal Party is to liberalism. That is, not at all.

    And the question always remains. What term do they give to right-wing extremism (the counterpart to communism/socialism as left wing extremism)?

  23. I just got around to looking at your video on MMT Edward.

    What a quirky production !

    I guess I’ve spent at least 1000 and more likely 2000 hours reading about Modern Monetary Theory and its earlier proto-types over the last 5 years.

    So, with that backgrounding, I was more interested to see how effectively that video explained the counter-intuitive insights that are embedded in MMT rather than actually taking away some learning.

    Anyone who’s never heard of MMT would get pretty much all they need to know from that 15 minute video. More importantly from that point on they would know that everything Joe (“living within our means”) Hockey says is total bullshit.

    A wider understanding of MMT would be the end of the neo-liberal agenda.

    What’s the swing we need to turf these pricks out at the next election ?

    We’d also need to lead Labor and the Greens out of the neo-liberal labrynth they got lost in by following the conservatives but that should be a lot easier after a term in opposition.

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