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The Dumb Demo Looks Dumber: The Nostalgic Left at Work

January 29, 2012

UPDATE. Oh my God, so Unions ACT was the tip-off party. No revelation could make my point below more apt. The myth of the demo. The bankruptcy of old Left culture – paint the placards, stoke the anger and abuse, confront the police, produce scuffles. Create a lovely day out for the local anarchists and Trots. For them, a picnic excursion. This is the point I have been making: this outdated, campus-days, Teachers Federation amateur politics helps the Right. It makes Abbott look good.

The whole episode is a reflection on what I call the Nostalgic Left.

  1. Marian Rumens permalink
    January 29, 2012 7:33 am

    Yes. The left should just stick to their sport and beer. They’ve now been told “Don’t you worry about that” by Bob Carr, the workers friend.. Just leave things in our hands. We know what’s best for you. Right Bob?.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      January 29, 2012 7:37 am

      No, just use tactics that help the cause, not tactics that help Abbott. After that dopey demo who is looking good? The demonstrators? Their cause? Sorry, that went up in smoke.

      • Alchin Ed permalink
        January 29, 2012 10:58 am

        This maybe so Bob but the point is that a great % of people will cry and gnash their teeth over dolphins, American Indians rights and losses the Amazon Peoples over their losses etc etc around the world of injustice but yet we fail to grasp the understanding of the deep rage and bitterness of indigenous Australians, Their Land stolen their cultures all but destroyed the women raped and killed their homes destroyed and their very being as humans denied for so long.
        Maybe the nostalgic left as you say are involved but how much of does the Labor party owe the nostalgic left. We are all held accountable for out debts and for myself I cannot see the debt our people owe to these indigenous Australians ever being paid back. The trillions of dollars that have been grabbed from this country should at least in part be part our pay beck to them and I don’t care if my pittance in tax supports one of them somewhere in this country.
        Don’t misunderstand me I do not condone criminal activity by anyone nor do I tolerate bad people of any race but the Indigenous people of this country are owed a debt impossible to pay back and I think they are cranky that after coming from virtually the stone age they have been force fed our sociological beliefs and paradigms in a very limited 200 years and although trying are still not accepted in the whole.
        Pay them back, give them miner rights to their land for gods sake the rich 1% of this country have made enough haven’t they.
        Can’t we show the world that we are a caring, compassionate nation of people that are advancing past this mighty dollars grasp on our psyche and tie back something of the debt that is impossible to ever repay.
        Nostalgic left or extreme right whatever there is a massive injustice been done that e as a nation can at least attempt to repay without giving with the left hand while the right hand does the accounting of what has been given back give it back freely and unconditionally. This is the point we all need to look at, The world is changing rapidly and if we as a nation and our government employees don’t see this then we will be left behind and in history be remembered as being (pardon the pun) recalcitrant and lackeys of the USA a society dying as the roman empire did in the most decadent way.

    • lynot permalink
      January 29, 2012 9:51 am

      I agee with you Marian. Just use tactics that help the cause eh Bob, What like shafting Rudd? Old news I know, but the Swan song of what was a great party none the less.

      Bob Brown must be laughing in his soup.

  2. Malcolm Farr permalink
    January 29, 2012 7:45 am

    Go Bob. Events from OWS to No Carbon Tax rallies have shown demos in liberal democracies have become merely a form of political onanism.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      January 29, 2012 8:13 am

      Yes, for the Right as well! Look at the embarrassment for Abbott in those anti-carbon rallies. Mount a demo and you attract extremists. The extremists make good copy. They become the face of the protest. Your cause loses.

      • Ford Prefect permalink
        January 29, 2012 10:33 am

        I agree with Bob’s point. OWS though is a different case intierly – though it has its faults, I believe that its been very successful in the US. Its put issues like inequality of the tax system on the national agenda in US politics and laid the ground for Obama to raise it in his SOTU address. What OWS has not been, is the ugly sceptical we saw on Australia Day.

  3. ALP media adviser permalink
    January 29, 2012 8:05 am

    As an ALP media adviser I would have done the same thing as Hodges. What this shows is Sattler didn’t have any political nous. Hodges contacted her as she is political insider to get some people to respond to Abbott’s argument that Tent Embassy “shouldn’t exist”. To say it’s time has past does read it shouldn’t exist.
    Hodges told her that Abbotts in the coffee shop, and Sattler – who has a genuinely senior position in the ACT ALP as Unions ACT secretary and has organised a few demo’s should have taken that as a sign to be responsible with the information.
    The truth is that media advisers do this everyday. Getting third parties to respond to views to support their party and oppose the other party.
    Sattler is in the Labor tent, has over 20 years on Hodges, should have known better. Hodges should not be the scapegoat for this Union mate.

    • January 29, 2012 8:43 am

      The truth is media advisers do this every day. No argument there. Another truth is political allsorts and their supporters are at best another noisy manipulative minority directing political traffic. Dissenters may have an up hill battle fighting for the ideal of an honest open representative government against skilled and not so skilled media advisers and the politicians who pay them. But we keep trying because change usually starts with one persons resolve . Edward James

    • Ford Prefect permalink
      January 29, 2012 10:38 am

      Pretty poor effort all round by people in the Labour Movement who should have known better. It was a sad day for the left and for reconciliation, the actors in this sorry event have let us down.

  4. Rod McClure permalink
    January 29, 2012 9:03 am

    Bob whilst I see what you are saying about outdated tactics of your “Nostalgic left” I cannot agree with you about Abbott looking good. He is a dangerous watch dog fed oh Pals of the extreme right.
    When “they” are ready the will call him behind & he will jump up into the back of the Liberal squatters ute for a feed of Chum with his chumpy mates.
    I’m guessing Eastern subs money interests will then engage Malcolm “The dignified” Turnbull.

  5. Doug Brown permalink
    January 29, 2012 12:18 pm

    Bob, you are right. Mad Trots have ruined many demos.

    I can, however, remember one cunning demo not ruined by mad Trots.

    The year was 1985, or thereabouts. I was working in Gerry Gleeson’s Premier’s Dept in the SOB on the corner of Bent and Macquarie. Nurses had a pay claim. The Government opposed it. Several nurses, in uniform (high-hemmed dresses – no pants suits), stood on the corner of Bent and Macquarie and held up a sign stating “Honk if you support nurses”. I think that it was a Tuesday, the day State Cabinet met each week. I was working on the Seventh Floor. Premier Wran had his office on the Eighth Floor. The Cabinet room was on the Ninth Floor. For several hours, we public servants on the seventh floor listened to a continous honking of horns. The Premier, and Cabinet (if they were meeting, and I think that they were), would also have heard the horns.

    Alas, I cannot remember whether the nurses won their pay claim. But I do know that everyone in Premier’s Dept re-thought the Government’s opposition to the nurses’ claim.

    It was the best demo I have every seen – or heard.


  6. Les permalink
    January 29, 2012 12:54 pm

    I am the furthest thing you can get from a Gillard supporter but to attack a sitting Prime Minister like that is a disgrace and anyone who does, should be before a court! Of course this won’t happen.. just racism in another form…

  7. January 29, 2012 3:50 pm

    Bob, given your repeated comments on the nostalgia of the left I wonder if you’ve had any posts about the Occupy crowds (I’ve read this blog on and off, none come to mind). Strikes me there’s a lot of nostalgia amongst that lot for protest movements in the past – and, on the part of many of the Occupy demonstrators, an over-imaginative self-identification with those protesters and causes.

    I don’t know – but it strikes me this romanticisation of past protest movements is – and will be for some time – a big problem for the pragmatic left in the years to come.

  8. January 29, 2012 8:49 pm

    I agree with Bob says about the stupiid tactics of the Old Left and being stuck in the nostalgic groove. However the Occupy protests are a much newer phenomenon – more Postmodern Digital-era, Leaderless Left than Old left. They were principally inspired by the mass demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia & elsewhere. One thing shown by the Arab Spring is that getting into the streets can be – in certain circumstances (eg. dictatorships) neccesary and effective.

  9. January 29, 2012 8:50 pm

    Correction: My opening should read “I agree with what Bob says about the stupid tactics of the Old Left. Apologies for the typos.

  10. January 30, 2012 11:05 am

    Bob, I agree with your comments about the ease at which protests can come unstuck, be highjacked or become pointless without a clear issue. I think that a well organised demonstration with a clear objective and a good case can be very effective. The first protest I was ever involved in was the teachers’ rally in 1988 in protest against the Greiner Government’s changes to school staffing numbers. I think that this protest was a very effective one – it successfully highlighted community dissatisfaction with a government policy, it motivated a lot of people like myself to become actively involved in the political process and it hurt the government of the day politically. Metherell was removed and Greiner nearly lost government after one term.
    I think that the rally helped you as Opposition Leader (otherwise you would not have addressed it) and gave a shot in the arm to a depleted Labor Party. It also deterred a lot of teachers from voting for the Coalition in state for a generation (which sadly came to an end last year). This is why O’Farrell is taking the softly, softly approach – I think he learned from the mistakes of the Greiner Government here.
    A well organised and focused demonstration can be a very effective means of showing community dissatisfaction to the media. If you don’t have a $30 million slush fund likes Clubs NSW to push a cause, a mass protest can be a great way of highlight concerns with bad government decisions. As long as the cause and message is clear and designed to win support instead of antagonising people it will work.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      January 30, 2012 11:16 am

      Yes, I recall that rally/demonstration. On the day of parliament convening August 1988. It gave us in opposition a lot of heart. It was peaceful and moved onto a Domain rally which I addressed. Of course, ultimately it was a parliamentary election – that of 1991 – which made the point because Greiner was reduced to a one seat majority, later reduced to minority government.

  11. January 30, 2012 1:16 pm

    Agreed, although I think that the rally played a big part in getting the election result. The rally was a genuine public demonstration of dissatisfaction with government policy. I’d suggest that if that rally had not taken place it would have been harder do demonstrate that there was public dissatisfaction with the Greiner/ Metherell schools policies and therefore a reduced likelihood of punishing the government.
    BTW I apologise for putting a wrong name on my previous post.

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