Living the Dream after the Plebiscite and amongst the Alt-Right

Living the Dream after the Plebiscite and amongst the Alt-Right

The same-sex marriage plebiscite was an amazing victory against conservative forces in Australia. Yet most of the Left treat it as a horrible defeat. What's this all about and what impact does it have on radical politics in Australia? Also we chat about the alt-right in Australia. Living The Dream is an anticapitalist podcast from Brisbane host at The Word From Struggle Street.

In this episode Dave (@withsobersenses) and Jon (@jonpiccini) catch up with Simon Copland (@SimonCopland) ‏ again. We talk about how despite the plebiscite being a fantastic victory the Left (for lack of a better term) seems determined to see it as a defeat and what the impact of this is. Simon also talks about going to, live tweeting from and then writing about a recent Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux talk and his thoughts about how the struggle against reaction can be renovated.

Things we mention include:

Simon Copland - Racists on speaking tour: rethinking our response

Alison Pennington - On the Plebiscite: Beyond Defeatism, Moralism and the Politics of Scarcity

Red Action - Declaration Of Independence

You can find Simon’s work here and our older episode with him here

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Music by Idles

Posted By

With Sober Senses
Oct 12 2018 04:12


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Oct 12 2018 20:35

Gotta disagree with the take on the plebiscite here. It wasn't as much of a victory as they're making it out to be. The anti-SSM lobbyists knew they were going to lose. They weren't stupid, it was a foregone conclusion. That's why they deployed the strategy they did: pump massive amounts of cash into fearmongering on (seemingly) irrelevant issues like sex ed in schools or 'PC warriors'. The point of that wasn't just to try and get people to vote no, but to lay the groundwork for future anti-LGBT campaigns. The anti-SSM lobbyists and politicians aren't just interested in SSM, they're also very very very interested in the way sex ed is delivered in both public and state schools, and with wider conservative identity politics issues more generally.

I mean think about it. Gay marriage is an accepted idea in most of the western world; it's not a tough issue for people to deal with. Most people got over it about a decade ago -- it doesn't rock the boat as much anymore. That has been roundly confirmed both by polling data, most people's day-to-day lives and the plebiscite results themselves. But things like teaching progressive ideas about gender roles, trans issues, equality, etc are all quite new to people. Many (maybe most) people wouldn't know exactly what a word like genderqueer means, so it can be tough for an educator or advocate to get people onto the just side of these things. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if we had a plebiscite over Safe Schools, it wouldn't be an easy victory like the SSM one. The anti-SSM campaigners successfully put bullshit notions about genderfluidity and trans children into the public mind through the wonderful campaigning opportunity the plebiscite afforded them.

And I guess the other major reason I'm very cynical about the victory is the disappointing campaign the Yes people ran. It was so incredibly middle-class, so incredibly Anglo. They completely failed to engage and connect with working class or CALD Australians on any serious level. This was reflected by their campaigning strategy, which did not focus on convincing 'no' voters to come round to 'yes', but instead focused on getting 'yes' voters to bother to vote. They failed to disseminate material in non-English languages, one of the many reasons they completely failed to get major ethnic minority communities on their side.

I know this first hand, because I am an Arab, from a progressive, Maronite family, who had to deal with (what felt like) hordes of family and friends spouting nonsense they heard from priests about homosexual Satanists trying to snatch children from schools and shit like that. The experience in the Chinese community was apparently similar. Fabricated, scaremongering nonsense spread through WhatsApp and Facebook groups and the 'yes' people did nothing to address it, letting right wingers dominate. Instead of fighting the right-wing they just preached to the choir, doing shit like doorknocking in Newtown.

All this will cause future problems for progressives, as working class, multicultural areas are broadly left-wing, but the conservatives are winning many over to their side. If the ALP and the rest of the Australian left are not careful, this will have serious repercussions in terms of both electoral results and the safety and security of LGBT children who grow up in these areas, and the people that live there currently.

So obviously, it's good we got gay marriage through. But I struggle to look at it as a resounding victory. There is so, so much more that now needs to be done because of errors made during the campaign.