‘Shared values’ exposed as a naked lie

Protesting for Palestine in Gadi/Sydney on November 19. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

Labor and Coalition governments justify their policies as being based on our supposed shared democratic values. These “shared values” are then conflated with “Australian interests”.

But, over the past two months in particular, this moral posture by the traditional governing parties has been exposed over and again as a lie.

The Anthony Albanese government’s shameless support for Israel’s genocide in Gaza had lost the support of a majority of the population by mid-November, despite the corporate media (and the ABC tailing behind) going into war propaganda overdrive.

But their screaming headlines and shameless copy–pasting of the Israeli war propaganda machine’s outright lies could not hide Israel’s genocidal response to the breakout from Gaza on October 7.

As we go to print, it is estimated that about 24,000 Palestinians (90% of whom are civilians and 40% children) have been slaughtered in what could be the most brutal carpet bombing of cities in history.

Media bosses even had to stop their journalists from questioning the war propaganda.

Journalists who dared sign an open letter committing to “deliver truth and full context” of what was going on in Gaza, “without fear of political intimidation”, were hit with political intimidation, censorship and were banned from reporting on Palestine.

The huge demonstrations against the genocide in Gaza that have taken place week after week — even in relatively politically conservative Australia — underline the growing chasm between the ruling establishment’s hypocritical moral posturing and public understanding and sympathies.

But it is not just about Palestine. It is about all the other injustices and oppressions around the world and, not least, the ongoing and utterly unconscionable oppression faced by First Nations people in this colonised continent.

The obvious connections are being made and it is having a profoundly politicising and radicalising impact, particularly on women and younger people.

Poll after poll on various social issues — from racism, war and the treatment of refugees to climate change and economic justice — confirm that these two demographic groups are leading forces for change.

In the United States, where opinion polling more commonly also tracks race and ethnicity, it is clear that older white men are more conservative.

The battle for hearts and minds is focused around supposed shared values precisely because, in normal conditions, the ruling class is able to assert that its interests and values are shared with the population.

Albanese was still pushing this shared values line on the eve of his visit to the US in mid-October, when he told parliament: “The United States is of course our closest ally, our principal strategic partner and our largest two-way investment partner, and our alliance with the United States is a central pillar of our foreign policy…

“Our nations are united by our common values, our deep history and our shared vision. But this visit will of course be focused on building an alliance for the future.

“Progressing our AUKUS pact is critical to that, ensuring Australia plays our part in upholding the stability, security and prosperity of our region…”

However, the shared interests of the ruling elites in the US and the cabal of other wealthy states have more to do with protecting the wealth and power of big corporations than about morality on the blood-soaked killing fields.

Those same interests are jeopardising billions of people’s lives, as we see in the theatrical farce at the COP28 summit in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

The host state is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters. But Climate Council senior researcher Dr Wesley Morgan said Australia exports nearly three times more fossil fuels than the UAE.

This is why, even under Labor, Australia’s climate emergency targets do not include greenhouse gas emissions from its fossil fuel exports, and new fossil fuel projects are being given the go-ahead.

Our governments (and the corporate interests they loyally serve) try to sell the “shared values” and “common interests” to the public by appealing to narrow economic self-interest.

We are told “It’s the economy, stupid” and urged to buy the argument that if we help big business make more profits, we will be assured of jobs and a rising standard of living.

But the ongoing cost-of-living crisis is demolishing this argument, as real wages continue to be eroded and the housing crisis forces younger people to move back home with mum and/or dad.

The Socialist Alliance and Green Left have been calling out as a naked lie Labor and Coalition governments’ pretence that they are acting in our common interest and our “shared values”.

In a badly–argued December 10 opinion piece for The Age/Sydney Morning Herald, columnist Parnell Palme McGuiness asserted it is “just a hop, skip and a jump” from criticising the genocide in Gaza to “the murky world of conspiracy theories”.

It is no conspiracy that the world is facing a deadly and potentially existential clash between the interests of the ruling elite and the people: ample facts prove this.

Right-wing columnists, like McGuiness, make their living from refusing to let the truth get in the way. But Israel’s Gaza genocide, and the COP’s likely silence on ending fossil fuels in a climate emergency, give their game away.

[Peter Boyle is a member of the Socialist Alliance national executive.]