Like Victoria Rollison, I have been observing with interest on Twitter and some blogs I visit the development of the protest movement March in March. Like Ms Rollison, I’ve had some doubts about it, but am open to persuasion. Here are Ms Rollison’s thoughts on the matter – and many thanks to her, as always, for permission to republish here.
When I first saw mention on Twitter of the March in March, I’ll admit I was sceptical. Thoughts of a very small number of trucks driving into Canberra, and Alan Jones getting all hot and bothered filled my mind. The last thing Australian progressives need is our own ‘Convoy of no consequence’. However, as the March in March organisers have got more organised, and as events across the country grow in number, I realised that of course I have to March in March, and in fact it would be totally hypocritical of me not to.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter, or reads my blog will know that I spend a lot of time complaining about the Abbott government. Prior to the election, I spent hours crafting new ways to plead with the electorate not to elect the wrecking ball. And since the election, I’ve spent hours commenting on the damage strewn in the path of this wrecking ball, basically saying ‘I told you so’. In many ways, the Abbott government’s first four months have been much worse than even I predicted. I thought he would go about his disastrous promises to repeal the carbon price, to destroy the NBN, to undo the mining tax and that this would be bad enough. However, it would appear that Abbott is in much more of a hurry than we realised to reward his fanatical right wing ideologues, to give jobs to the boys, and to bring about John Howard’s vision for Australia much quicker than even Howard had the balls to do. The country is now speeding at a terrifying rate towards a Tea Party utopia. And this is before the Commission of Audit has even released their report. In a nutshell, Abbott has handed over control of the country to rich business owners. We have rich business owners controlling all kinds of policies, from environmental protection laws, to welfare policies such as work for the dole, to industrial relations and taxation. And Abbott doesn’t seem to mind if he causes a war with Indonesia, as long as he stops…the…boats.
Part of the problem with this all getting so quickly out of hand is that progressives have had little time to react. It is clear that Bill Shorten is doing his best to rise above the messy chaos of the Abbott government, and to avoid the harsh negativity that is Abbott’s brand of political campaigning. I can see why Labor is taking this softly softly approach. The by-election in Griffith is also clearly Federal Labor’s priority and a win there would be great for the party’s morale. As Napoleon Bonaparte is often quoted as saying – ‘never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake’. However, I believe that when the Abbott government is making so many drastic changes, and each and every one of them is detrimental to the community, but beneficial to Abbott’s rich mates, it’s not a good time for those who disagree with Abbott’s approach to sit on our hands and let him wreck the place. Hence why Marching in March is a good idea.
Before I sound like one of the smug anti-outrage twitterati, who seem to be popping up all over the place being anti-anyone talking about anything on Twitter that wasn’t originally started by themselves, especially if it has something to do with Feminism or Racism, I want to make clear that there is a place for outrage on Twitter, but there also has to be a place for taking our outrage offline as well. There’s only so much activism that can be produced via social media and blogging. We also need to remind ourselves that we are mostly preaching to the converted on forums such as this and on Twitter, and perhaps to a lesser extent on Facebook. Mostly, my time spent on social media is time spent sharing my passion and outrage with other progressives who are just as passionately outraged by the Abbott government as I am. Taking our message to the streets will help us to reach a much larger audience, hopefully those so disengaged with politics that they don’t even know what Abbott has been up to and won’t know until they see some people on the news getting upset about it.
Abbott’s political end goal is to destroy collective bargaining, to destroy government owned infrastructure and services, to promote greed, to disregard the cost of the greed on the environment and to ultimately leave our country with a small, ineffectual and utterly corrupt government which hands the nation’s wealth to a rich few. If you are as concerned about this end goal as I am, I encourage you to keep Tweeting, to keep sharing information that helps us to better coordinate our activism, but also to get out on the streets and March in March. The one advantage workers have over their capitalist bosses is numbers and unity. Let’s use our numbers and our unity to show Abbott and those who support him that we’re not giving up that easily.