Read this and be smarter: a new crime novel plumbs the history of one of Perth’s political low points to show our nationalist past was not so long ago
True West is a new crime novel by David Whish-Wilson set in late 1980s Perth against the backdrop of hate crimes associated with Jack van Tongeren’s Australian Nationalist Movement that included the firebombing of Asian businesses, as well as the dog-whistle comments made by then federal Liberal opposition leader John Howard associated with ‘slowing down’ Asian immigration. In the novel Lee Southern has fled to Perth after he betrayed the Knights bikie gang in Geraldton. Lee works as a rogue truck driver but before too long he finds himself captured by neo-nazis and must do their bidding if he is to protect those last few things he holds dear.
Brad was driving a stolen Mazda shitbox, making the right moves with his signals, keeping under the limit. They were driving west toward Fremantle on Canning Highway, the scent of wet grass on the wind, the seaweed smell of the nearby river. Brad looked at his watch and turned on the radio, set to 6PR. They hadn’t spoken since leaving the house.
‘I don’t get you, kid. Most of the fellas that come to the movement are lookin for the brothers and fathers they never had, and the rest of ’em are lookin for a regular opportunity to fight. But you. What do you believe in? What are you planning on doin with your life, when we got this happenin –’
Brad stopped himself at the sound of Kinslow’s name, there on the radio, being introduced by Howard Sattler.
‘Holy shit. Turn it up.’
Lee did as asked. Kinslow sounded comfortable and confident. He thanked Sattler for the opportunity to get his point across, introducing himself as the leader of the APM and candidate in the forthcoming election.
‘This has never happened before, Lee. This is big.’
Lee was still thinking about Brad’s question, and what he believed in.
No good answer to that question.
He kept picturing his father, in his isolation cell, coming off the gear. The suffering and desperation.
Lee had always believed what his father believed, but now he wasn’t sure what that was.
Kinslow was warming to the task of fending off Sattler’s interruptions. Right there, on the airwaves, carried on the warm evening wind across the city, like a patient and warm-hearted guest, Kinslow’s deep and reasonable voice began laying out the future of the movement. ‘Well, yes, Howard, I do call myself a national socialist. With an emphasis on both the national and the socialist. Globalisation has diminished national sovereignty, empowering transnational corporations who don’t care about people, disempowering our elected governments. Only a national socialist government in Western Australia will genuinely care for the interests of the West Australian people, because we’re the only voices speaking against global capital and the power of banks –’
‘But you advocate the overthrow of our democratically elected government, you’re demanding –’
‘We’re not demanding anything, Howard. We’re registered as a political party. We’re participating in democracy. But let me tell you this. What we have now isn’t democracy. What we have is politics, and politicians acting on behalf of vested interests, with a mind only to getting re-elected. What we have is the illusion of democracy, and the most illusory thing of all is when your politicians tell you that they can keep you safe, because they can’t keep you safe. Because this is no longer a nation. This is a market. This is a pool of docile consumers. What this country needs, going forward, is not politicians, but leaders.’
‘By that you mean white leaders, and white citizens.’
‘That’s correct. You see, Howard, the health of global capitalism depends upon unending growth, and most of all upon population growth. Free-market capitalism’s future therefore assumes a brown world. Whites are the only ones on the planet responsibly managing their populations. The horse has already bolted for the browns and the yellows and the blacks. With population decline in the West, capitalism will demand immigration from brown countries to top up white populations, to keep up economic growth. And then there is the corruption and the mismanagement of all the countries outside of the West. Theft and ineptitude on a grand scale. This creates instability, warfare and competing for scarce resources. You already see it in the countries bordering Europe and North America. Overpopulation. Poverty. Misery. It’s just common sense that tells you that one day Europe will be overrun, and America will be overrun, because they’re unwilling to secure their borders. It happened to the Roman Empire when they lost control of their borders, and the same will happen again. It’s not a pretty picture, our future, Howard, if we allow the status quo to continue. The world will continue to be trashed to benefit a wealthy few. But we are an island, with borders that can be secured. We have an opportunity to save ourselves, and look to our native capacity to organise and adapt and invent, planning for a safe, viable and sustainable future –’
‘And how exactly do you plan to realise that, when –’
‘Thank you for that question, Howard, I was just getting to that. What we are proposing is for Western Australia to secede, and to be born again as a white republic, before it’s too late. We have the resources to do this. We have the land to sustain us. Those who are unwilling or unwelcome in the new republic can migrate over East, which is already lost. We would invite displaced whites from elsewhere in the world to join us, much like Zionist Israel has done with Jews. We can build something that is new, but is at the same time very old, harking back to when Europe was Europe, when Europe was white. We will be rich, we will be proud, we will be strong –’
‘Sounds like a fairytale to me. And in the meantime, you terrorise Asians who live here, minding their own business, getting on with it.’
‘We don’t condone the attacks, Howard, but at the same time, we didn’t ask our elected governments to invite Asians here. They weren’t elected to do that. Leaving this aside, it’s important to state that we aren’t racists. We don’t hate those that are different. On the contrary, we respect their difference, and ask that ours too be respected. We are builders and inventors, not destroyers. Our greatest enemies are not Asians, you see, but the self-hating whites who want to bring about the apocalypse of their own culture, by degree, and all so that capitalism can grow and grow, so that a few men get rich while the world goes to hell.’
Brad’s lighter flared and for a moment his eyes were bright with a stunned awe. He punched Lee on the shoulder, puffed on his cigarette, grinning. ‘This is how it starts, young’un. It’s exactly what we’ve planned for. We get a voice, we win a few votes, and then the major parties shit themselves. Then the whole fucken thing moves to the right, while we keep working, from the inside this time. Fucken eh!’
Brad turned off the radio, ducking his eyes to look down a side street. They were near the port. Lee could smell the sheep piss on the breeze. A golden light settled above the great cranes and container ships beyond the nearest limestone bluff. Brad turned into a street of small office buildings and storage sheds and killed his lights, slowed and checked the numbers written on the kerbs.
Want more information about how this book came about? Listen in to the podcast below. True West is available in all good bookstores and online.