During this morning’s press conference, Brown, Combet and Gillard drew on a number of justifications for a carbon price: the logic of the market itself (as with multiple references to economic efficiency), fairness, redistribution of income to low income households, energy innovation … oh yes, and gestured to the problems associated with unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions.
Tony Abbott’s response has been to incite a revolt against the government because petrol prices may rise by 6.5c/L under at $26/t scenario. Seriously.
Meanwhile, the threat of an actual people’s revolt against the brutal Libyan dictatorship may see petrol prices rise by 30c – about five times that much.
You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Which begs the question of why. Why chose the term ‘people’s revolt’ in the midst of a once in a generation flowering of democracy in the middle east?
Partisanship for its own sake is politics de jour in our national capital, and has been for at least the past couple decades. Rather than speculating on why that is, I would rather draw attention to the content of Abbott’s message – or rather its lack. By rallying Liberals behind ‘Gillard has broken a promise! Great big tax!’ Abbott gives himself room to manoeuvre without having to actually justify why the details of the proposal are bad.
In some respects, the MPCCC proposal for emissions trading is actually more Ordoliberal than Neoliberal. Whereas Neoliberals were united by their opposition to Keynesianism, and the application of economic principles to sociological domains like crime, the Ordoliberals internalized the Weberian desire for “a re-enchanted world, filled with shared meaning for all, embodied in great public figures or works.” Think of Christine Milne’s promotion of great ‘renewable energy’ projects like solar thermal stations. However, scarred by the vital politics of the Nazi state, the Ordoliberals developed an idea of the market as a device to explicitly temper the growth of the state – hence the reliance on a carbon price, and anxiety about ‘picking winners’.
In contrast, Abbott’s demanded rage from voters without recourse to reflection or justification. The squalid invocation of the term ‘people’s revolt’ was nihilistic to the extent that it relied on an empty, blind rage. No morality. This was simply the ‘hacker ethos’ transplanted into the field of climate policy.
Hayek noticed a ‘double truth’ to liberalism. As one commentator has summarized it: an elite would be tutored to understand the deliciously transgressive Schmittian necessity of repressing democracy while, while the masses would be regaled with ripping tales of ‘rolling back the nanny state’ and being ‘free to choose’
Breathlessly eliding Libyan oil with the pathetic quasi-libertarian grammar of ‘great big tax’ put both sides of that truth on graphic display today.
Update: (Mea Culpa – this is from 2009, so think of it as a timely reminder)Turnbull savages Abbott over climate ‘bullshit’
Former Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull has unleashed an attack on his successor Tony Abbott, describing his climate change position as “bullshit”.
In a strongly-worded blog entry posted this morning, Mr Turnbull personally attacks Mr Abbott for putting the party’s integrity on the line, saying Coalition climate change policy has descended into “farce”, because it does not have a policy.
He vows to cross the floor and vote for the Government’s emissions trading scheme and urges his colleagues to follow him.
Eltham notes that “carbon wars are back and despite the wishes of scientists and environmentalists, this round will be all about politics — not policy, not evidence, and certainly not science.”
Keane focuses on one message within this politics- the seemingly arbitrary fluctuations within the Liberals’ electricity price rise scare campaign. He wonders whether “… voters are more likely to see the Government’s move as a breach of faith or a reversal of an extraordinarily dumb decision? And have we all got the emotional energy to reach the same heights of hysteria as in 2009?”
Grog has carefully dissected the announcement, noting Gillard’s emphasis on efficacy and fairness.
Update: Sophie Mirabella “If Gillard thinks we want this carbon tax she is delusional as Colonel “my people love me” Gaddafi.”