Thomas, Nelly: Understanding Pauline

Thomas, Nelly

Understanding Pauline‘, New Matilda, 9 October 2016

‘I come from Hanson country’, says the author, ‘working class, socially conservative, racist, homophobic, xenophobic Australia’. The article looks at Hansonism in class terms.

The first thing to know about Hanson supporters is that most of them feel stupid. Really. There’s a base insecurity in much of working class Australia about being uneducated which, often times, is conflated with being dumb … This is the first clue as to why Hanson resonates: she speaks working class … In short, Pauline Hanson talks up to the elite. She makes large swathes of working class Australia feel right and powerful. It’s intoxicating.

To complicate matters, every time a commentator, cartoonist, comedian SNOB makes fun of Hanson (and yes, I do it) – especially when she gets a word wrong or mispronounces something – she’s loved even more. All working class people have at some point experienced that sense of being laughed at.

A conflation of race and class from a rather different perspective comes from Alice Pung in Guardian Australia, who suggests that elite conversations about national identity do not have much resonance with working class people.


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