Tuesday, 12 October 2004

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

Two comments by MarkL over at Back Pages. I'll quote them in full.

As a life-long swinging voter, I find this thread fascinating. Congratulations for maintaining, in nearly all cases, civil discourse between adults.

I posted above why I thought the ALP was deeply unconvincing in this election. This actually scares me.

The system we have works best with TWO powerful parties. What those currently oput of office MUST do is to craft credible policy positions while in opposition and form themselves as a credible alternative government.

Why am I worried? Because this is what the ALP, the oldest and most respectable political institution in the nation, has consistently failed to do.

Until the 'why?' of that issue is addressed, then the ALP will not take office.

That is very, very bad, because ALL parties need that time in opposition to refurbish themselves and shake out the deadwood.

I hang out with a lot of other swinging voters, Got talking to 'em this morning. Most are worried, most indicated that they found the ALP unelectable.

I straw polled 'em on why. There were some ALP people there who voted Liberal for the first time in their lives. What they said shocked me, this was:
  • they felt that the ALP had sold out their constituents in Tassie by betraying them to the 'latte-sipping trendy leftys of the inner cities'. Money quote from one of them "They sold us out to the f*cking Greenies. They showed no loyalty down. Why should I show loyalty up?" That bloke is in his 50s and has voted straight ALP since he was 21 years old.
  • They want the old ALP of pre-WWII back. You know, the one that stood up for workers through balancing workers rights with a thriving economy. The one that wanted every person to have the chance of putting a roof over their heads, and educating their kids, so they could get a job too.
  • The ALP was seen as threatening the roof over their heads and their kid's future jobs by pandering to the Greens.
The swinging voters mostly want:
  • the ALP to split off the hard left and dump 'em on the Greens, then form coalition with them so they do not poison the ALP well.
  • an end to the endless parade of party hacks and union hacks who have never earned a buck in their lives except through the Union movement or as a professional pollie. They reckon the present ALP front bench is packed with these people. In the cases where they were wrong about the ALP front bench, THEY DID NOT KNOW IT. One said, "name the workers on the ALP front bench". Nobody could.
  • an absolute end to the factions, to branch stacking, to the entrenched corruption within the ALP system.
  • Interestingly, they all knew Beazley senior's 1970 'the ALP used to be the cream of the working class, now it is the dregs of the middle class' quote.
  • they all regarded the ALP as poisoned by people who were so convinced of their own leftist views that they WOULD NOT LISTEN to anybody else, to the point where even reasonable aspirations for the ordinary bloke were not listened to. They do not want a bar of socialist utopians, because that does not work. They want people who know the real world. Quote" and the real world is a nasty place, sometimes."
  • The ALP blokes ALL supported the war on terror. Every one of 'em, (and every swinging voter}, wants the fascist bastards killed. They all know what a real fascist is - unlike the Australian Left or the Greens. These are not dumb people. They distrust the Australian media's anti-Americanism, they mostly look elsewhere for facts. Quote: "they have murdered a hundred Australian citizens for no reason. They just murdered a harmless old Pom. They are fascists. We know we are at war. Find them and kill them."
  • The ALP has no mechanism for shaking out the deadwood, because of the factions.
  • Therefore the ALP is simply out of touch with what people want - because it willfully refuses to listen.
The deadliest words came from a CFMEU member who voted for John Howard. He said: "NO party can call itself the ALP if it is willing to toss the jobs of workers on the scrap heap, to suck up to people who know bugger-all about what it is to be a worker who wants to work. Latham's deal with the Greenies was more than an attack on my comrades jobs. IT WAS A BETRAYAL OF THE DIGNITY OF THE WORKING MAN."

That comment caused dead silence, because he hit the nail on the head. He felt personally humiliated by Latham. And he voted straight Liberal because at least Howard recognised in him the dignity he had in being an ordinary Australian worker.

One of my grandfathers joined the ALP in 1923. He rose to be a train driver after 30 years. The other in 1919 when he got back from the war. He rose to be a springsmith after 40 years. Both are dead. I am glad that they never saw 'their ALP' betray the dignity of the working man.

I am a swinging voter. Please fix the ALP so the system works, and so I feel they are credible, and measure up to what they were in the past.

Not content with that, MarkL then produced another accurate and incisive comment.
GRegan, you raise some interesting points and some intriguing points. Thank you for that. However, extension of the argument (regarded forests as sacred so must be a greenie) is (as you doubtless know) an illogical syllogism.

You have to take the development of National Socialism at its historical value. Yes, Matilda, facts are absolute and not relative. They do not depends on ones frame of reference, or culture, or the colour of your eyes. Please do not trust me, just go and check the facts of the matter out for yourself, and reach your own conclusions.

It is beyond argument that Hitler was a socialist, and that he developed his own rather special brand of socialism, to our enormous cost. Read what the evil so-and-so actually said, actually did. Read his party's policies, and where they got them from. Read his speeches, and what he was saying during his long rise to power; it was all from the run-of-the-mill socialism of the era. Please remember that era is 80 years ago. Things have changed since. And socialists do not like to be reminded that National Socialism was an anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, socialist creed. Unless you are a Socialist Alliance hardliner, in which case it is the great secret everyone knows, but which dare not speak its name.

National Socialism was a major development in socialism, as was the development of soviet communism. Both had long lives, both dated from the end of WWI, and both are still with us.

Ba'ath does actually stand for Arab National Socialist, leading Arab nationalists of the period 1934-38 travelled to Germany and, with German National Socialist political philosophers, developed an Arab version of the creed. A Lebanese Christian friend of mine knows this. He has lost 20+ relatives to National Socialist Syrian Army troops and secret police occupying Lebanon. He is from Zahle, originally, so as you doubtless know, this explains why. Oh, they murdered the most recent one ten months ago. He really, really hates Arab National Socialists.

This, BTW, makes the Syrian state that last National Socialist state on earth, as North Korea is the last Stalinist one. These pernicious ideologies last until someone destroys them. Note the active tense. Playing a role in the destruction of ANY National Socialist regime is a good thing IMVHO.

SO I sound like a right winger? How odd. I thought leftists were supposed to SEEK the destruction of National Socialist governments. Certainly, my devout practising marxist mates (OK, they ARE rather old geezers!) are still crowing about it. Marxism can develop from a bourgeoeise democracy, according to them, but not from a National Socialist state.
Yup, the Marxists I know support the destruction of Saddamite national Socialism by the Coalition!

It is a mark of how far the left has sunk that it now fails to identify such totalitarian regimes and oppose them. The western left was the most merciless of their opponents, until it lost its moral compass. This is why Christoper Hitchens has abandoned the western left, of course. And become a self confessed 'recovering Trotskyite', philosophically attached to Paul Wolfowitz's brand of activist neo-conservatism. Christopher flipping HITCHENS!

There are no more International Brigades, are there?

Instead, we see 'peace' marches to oppose the removal of National Socialist totalitarian dictators. Which they then broadcast as proof of popular western support for their government.

Has the west supported ugly regimes? Yes, as part of opposing some of the worst ideological structures the world has ever seen. Was this expediency at its worst? Yes, and it stands condemned at the bar of history when there were better options of achieving the same end.

But to attempt to render moral equivalency between the support of authoritarian regimes, and the existance of national Socialist or Communist regimes is simply invalid. And we have the body count to prove it - real The Gulag Archipelago if you do not believe me. That is like saying the idiotic and reprehensible behaviour at Abu Ghraib is morally equivalent to Zaqwari's murder of western hostages, and his bombing campaign against Iraqi civilians.

Such a comparison (where made) can be considered deeply racist: implying that westerners acting badly is equivalent to Arabs murdering others actually does this. Because implies that 'we have to expect this sort of thing from the brown chappies'.

I am not saying you are a racist, and please do not think that I am saying or implying that at all. I am saying that where people are not careful about the issues of moral relativism, this sort of issue can arise. This is dangerous ground.

Overall, please look objectively at the development of the great ideologies of the past century. A tremendous and bitter failure of the western left is ignoring what National Socialism and Stalinist Communism really were - but only by knowing exactly what they were can the modern left avoid becoming them again.

The men of the International Brigades fighting Franco knew.

Do you? If you do not, then they died in vain. So it is well worth the effort to find out.

I have strayed very far from commiserations and congratulations on the Australian election! I do apologise for that, but I thought some words from an ex-socialist who is now a professional grouch who takes no politicians word for anything and makes up his own mind on the facts he can find on every substantive issue might interest the odd person. Being accused of being a RWDB was, however, bloody funny. Thanks for the laughs. I guess I just wish a plague on all politicians houses ... (is this bad??)

Hey, there is a bumper sticker:
Hate all the bastards equally!
Be a Swinging Voter

To all, congratulations and commiserations in equal measure, and good night.

I'm a little less cynical. A little. But otherwise, MarkL and I are of like mind. I really couldn't have put it better myself.

Post Scriptum : I tried contacting MarkL for permission to quote him, but wasn't able to. A matter of politeness. I just hope he starts blogging...

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