Australia's new political divide: 'globalists' versus 'patriots'
There is often talk that the old Left/Right divide is inadequate. Eysenck made a big deal of that in his 1954 book. And libertarians too think a two dimensional description is needed. A fairly typical example is below:
So the claims below are not very new.
I paid considerable attention to the matter in my research career, as you will see here but my conclusion was that a second dimension of attitudes did not emerge from the survey results. Only the old Left/Right division could be found.
An important qualification to that is that OBLIQUE factors could be found. In other words, the Left/Right domain was not totally homogeneous. For example, there is a dimension of economic conservatism plus a dimension of moral conservatism. Statements within those two domains correlate highly with one another but the correlation between moral conservatism overall and economic conservatism overall was weak: Weak but not non-existent.
In other words, economic conservatives also tended -- somewhat -- to be conservative on moral issues. And those two dimensions are the chief sub-dimensions of the Left/Right continuum. They emerge repeatedly in survey research. Despite some wrangling, Economic and moral conservatives do find common cause in everyday politics. They have enough in common to co-operate with one-another.
So what are we to make of the findings below? Clearly, they have identified two distinct factors. But how oblique are those factors? We are not told. I am almost certain that the two factors will in fact be very oblique, very highly correlated. Patriotism is normally a strong component of conservatism and internationalism is normally a Leftist ideal. Leftists continue to salute the United Nations despite the gross corruption in that body.
So all that I think the authors below have done is rediscover the old Left/Right divide. They have identified a group of statements that conservatives strongly agree with -- patriotic statements -- and a group of statements that get strong support from Leftists -- globalism. Two particular subsets of Left/Right attitudes have come under sharper focus and gained greater importance recently
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
Openness. That is the word Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe chose to emphasise at his first public outing this year.
In Australia there is an "openness and transparency" not always found elsewhere, he told a high-powered business gathering at the Opera House on Thursday night.
And openness to trade and investment has been fundamental to the nation's prosperity. Australia is "committed to an open international order," Lowe said.
Those sentiments might have seemed routine a few years back. But in the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump "openness" to the world economy – often referred to as globalisation – is now a hotly contested political issue.
A little over a year ago Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right Front National party and a presidential contender, cast political battlelines as being no longer "between the left and the right but the globalists and the patriots". The globalists, she sneered, are for the dissolution of France into a "global magma".
Greg Ip, a Wall Street Journal economics commentator, wrote last month that Le Pen's remarks foreshadowed "the tectonic forces that would shake up the world in 2016".
Opposition to globalisation – the increasing movement of goods, money and people across international borders – was a key theme of Trump campaign to become president of the US. From now on it is going to be "America First", he says repeatedly.
In Australia, Pauline Hanson has globalisation in her sights. In her maiden speech to the Senate in September she accused national leaders of giving away our sovereignty, our rights, our jobs and even our democracy. "Their push for globalisation, economic rationalism, free trade and ethnic diversity has seen our country's decline," she said.
In pitting globalists against patriots Le Pen neatly summed up a new and unpredictable political fissure that cuts across old divisions between left and right.
Ip predicts the tussle between globalism and nationalism "will shape the coming era much as the struggle between conservatives and liberals has shaped the last".
This political split has emerged during a period of rapid global economic integration. In the two decades before the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007 international trade in goods and services grew by 7 per cent a year on average – a much faster rate than global GDP.
This has been a period of great prosperity for Australia, which has not experienced a recession for a quarter of a century. But there has also been a marked shift in the structure of the economy. Since the mid-1990s manufacturing's share of Australia's economic output has fallen from 14 per cent to about 7 per cent.
Meanwhile, the importance of knowledge-intensive service industries such as finance and professional services has grown significantly. Similar trends have been at work in other advanced economies.
The flow of migrants to Australia – another factor many associate with globalisation – has also been strong. The proportion of Australians born overseas reached 28 per cent in 2014-15, the highest proportion in more than 120 years.
There are now signs the tussle Ip describes between globalist and nationalist sentiment has become an important political fault line in Australia.
Polling for the Political Personas Project commissioned by Fairfax Media and conducted by the Australian National University and Netherlands-based political research enterprise Kieskompas, shows public opinion is divided over the merits of trade liberalisation, one of globalisation's fundamentals.
The statement "free trade with other countries has made Australia better off" could not muster support from the majority of the 2600 voters surveyed – 44.7 per cent agreed (but only 7.1 per cent strongly), 27.5 per cent disagreed and 27.8 per cent were neutral.
There is a similar split when voters are asked to assess the impact of globalisation.
A separate Ipsos survey released in December found 48 per cent of Australians considered globalisation a "force for good" while 22 per cent said it was a "force for bad", with 29 per cent undecided.
Carol Johnson, professor of politics and international studies at the University of Adelaide, said many voters have, over time, become more aware of globalisation's drawbacks.
"Twenty years ago, the electorate seemed prepared to believe that while there were some risks to opening up the economy, there would also be benefits," she said. "Part of what happened is that people are now more aware that many of our competitor countries, including Asian countries, are more than capable of developing these [high-tech and service] industries themselves.
"The assumption that Western countries will always be superior has started to come undone and voters are becoming worried that government hasn't got right the mix of balancing the benefits and downsides of globalisation."
Polling for the Political Personas Project found more than eight in 10 voters believe "we rely too heavily on foreign imports and should manufacture more in Australia". This statement received more support than any other proposition in the survey, which covered dozens of hot-button political issues.
Jill Sheppard, a researcher from the ANU's Centre for Social Research and Method who was involved in the project, said public concern about the decline of manufacturing was linked to perceptions of globalisation.
"Globalisation seems to manifest in people's minds as manufacturing and jobs going offshore. They think about cheap labour in Asian countries, which seem like a direct threat to us."