One word can describe the last decade – Division. It is creeping into every corner of our countries, of our communities and even our Christmas dinners. We have the power to change the next decade by doing three simple things.
And So This Is Christmas
A number of tweets on Christmas Day summed up the culture of division that has now seeped so insidiously it has manifested around our Christmas tables. Tweets about the uncomfortable division of political discussions at Christmas. A Trump-loving uncle took pleasure in mocking his niece. He called her sensitive Sally. In addition, her own father warned she could leave if she wanted to express her views about Trump.
Christmas dinner tables should be full of togetherness and happiness. However, political division is now shunning the very people we love dearly at that table.
Our small discussion was about if people will forget about Morrison’s actions during the fires and just vote for him anyway. There was not a lot of confidence from young people at my house, that voters will hold him to account next election. These last few weeks and the weeks or months ahead, will just be forgotten.
Propaganda and Division
Voters in Regional and rural areas will vote National anyway. The propaganda from the right can also kill the left. They target just one policy people don’t like, (or can be convinced not to like). This can erase all the positives the Left may bring. Therefore, shunned by a risk-averse voting public.
Anyway, who would want to risk change with the cacophony of the superficial politically-woke-show-pony “Labor is just as bad” fan club, feeding their fears like Milo out of the tin on a spoon of sugary comfort?
The fear-driven risk-averse and perfectionist risk-averse now permeate our political culture. Both groups believe they are “Doing what’s right”. As a result, everyone outside of this group is labelled “Sheep.”
Fear Driven Risk Averse
The Fear Driven Risk-Averse see through the lens of right-wing propaganda. They do not like what is going on around them. Undecided voters prefer paternalism over change. Protected from the evils of the opposition, from losing their jobs, from great big taxes, from foreigners, from terrorists and any assortment of manufactured monsters. As we consume more and more propaganda, newspapers are now more overt and bold. They layer this with television and radio repeating the key message of protection from (manufactured) monsters. Millions of dollars were poured into online advertising and television advertisements, just by one mining magnate turned politician – Clive Palmer.
Fear Driven Risk-Averse voters believe that, changing to Labor might be bad. It sounds scary, so it doesn’t matter how bad the right is. If they doubt themselves, they are pulled back by layers of ‘monsters’ and scary situations that jeopardise their very existence. We don’t want to risk it. Don’t vote Labor!”
Perfection Driven Risk Averse
The Perfection Driven Risk-Averse see through a lense lens of left-wing propaganda. The drivers of the Perfection Driven Risk Averse are perfect policy over flexible pragmatism. This is best summed up by a description of the policy seeking organisation in Shaun Crowe’s (@ShaunCrowe) excellent book, “Whitlam’s Children: Labor and The Greens in Australia.
“(Policy Seeking Organisations) give greater priority to the articulation and defence of their policies than either the maximisation of votes or the securing of office”
In short, the perfectionist quest simply have a perfect policy. This is the driver, rather than the act of implementing the policy itself. The Perfectionist Risk Averse, come from a perspective of ethical egoism and consequentialism (Wall, 2019). In turn, chasing the perfect model of society via stated aims, there will be unequal consequences throughout society. Some sections of society will feel a more detrimental consequence than others in the achievement of that aim.
(This is where I struggle with the Greens and other ‘non-aligned’ movement organisations who attack Labor. This approach aligns with the Australian Liberals who accept negative consequences for some sectors of society, for a ‘wider aim.’ Where the Labor party work hard to be flexible to mitigate negative consequences across all sectors of society. To achieve this, it is impossible to be perfect.)
Pragmatism is Weak and Tainted
The Perfection Risk-Averse reject any non-alignment with perfectionist politics. As a result, this group sees pragmatism as weak and tainted. Although some people may share a common goal, it is this aspect that sees them turn away from Labor and actively fight against them.
Chants from this group are: Labor are not good enough, Labor are just as bad as the Liberals, Labor supports *insert horrible thing here*, Labor can’t win with that leader, we want a better leader, just find a cross between Gough and Abbott! How hard is it! How little talent they have! Labor wants to take away our rights, Labor needs to do better, Labor isn’t doing enough, Labor doesn’t stand up enough, Labor isn’t aggressive enough, Labor is weak, Labor doesn’t really care about workers, unemployed, the environment, Asylum Seekers, Pensioners, Indigenous rights, the homeless aaarrrrggghhh. If you want REAL change don’t vote Labor! (WTF??? How did Labor lose?)
The Rise of Propaganda
This political culture is generational in some rural and regional communities. This guarantees “the right” an automatic advantage of seats. In addition, this lens of left and right propaganda now sees many people in regional towns and cities voting “against their own interests” in droves.
This video Sally McManus posted yesterday, hits the nail on the head. I agree with George Monbiot that there is a formula to combat propaganda. However, to move forward with solutions, I think it’s important to recognise two types of propaganda that target major left parties. These are the Oligarchs who target the fear-driven risk-averse and the movement parties who target the perfectionist driven risk-averse.
In Australia, hard-working Australian voters were convinced by propaganda that Labor were anti-worker. As Monbiot states, the Oligarchs have discovered the formula of convincing the poor to vote for the very rich. It is imperative to also consider and discuss the impact that movement parties have on the election of a majority left government, such as the Australian Labor Party.
Movement Party Propaganda
Like all Propaganda, Movement party Propaganda has a political aim. Crowe’s book, discusses that this is to expose any gaps created by major parties. That is because major parties need to be flexible. Specifically, these are usually post-materialism aims and also to try to disrupt the very system itself.
There is significant discussion within Whitlam’s Children from both Labor and Greens’ interviewed about motive. Brown says that the Greens do not want to “Keep the Bastards honest, we want to replace them.” Bowen agrees this is the Green’s aim, along with numerous others interviewed. Interestingly, there are various discussions about gaining enough seats to form minority power of up to 25 seats (DiNatale). DiNatale also said that he would also consider a coalition with the Liberals. However, he added this was not likely, but he would not disregard it. Milne advocates for disruption to achieve a multi-party system.
So all attacks on Labor are not from some innocent place of policy concern. There is a real political drive to gain power, even if that (in the unlikely event) means forming a coalition with the Liberals.
The Left Targeting The Left
Movement Organisations and Movement parties express propaganda through grassroots via symbols, visual and vocal, social media and via disruption. In addition, they do not seek to clarify broader aims or policy operationalisation; but allow others to interpret meaning via symbols and slogans (symbolic interactionism).
This does come in various forms and various movements. Movement organisations and parties do attack right-wing Government’s via this method and in many instances such as Unions, there is a lot of truth in the movement’s activism. However, In the instance of application to oppose a major left party, with a political motivation to replace the major party for political power, the approach should be seriously considered.
Movement Party Propaganda in Action
I speak directly about Queensland. Specifically about my experience in one regional electorate. However, the examples below were coordinated. Here are three examples:
1. The Greens campaigned in the last Queensland Election that the Labor Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk was corrupt. However, the spectre of Newman kept this at bay. Unfortunately, Labor lost a seat to PHON (Mirani). At the booths, some people definitely retorted about “not voting for that corrupt bitch.” Queensland Labor may not be so lucky to win government in 2020 if the same campaign tactics are repeated.
2. The Stop Adani campaign. The Bob Brown convoy. Targeting Labor threads and suffocating the comments in Stop Adani (even on posts about cancer care). Importantly, attacking regional QLD every day for four years. Every day for four years, if that wasn’t clear. The announcement Greens would cease coal and bragging they would force Shorten to shut down coal three weeks before the election (see above for non-clarification of specifics and interpretivism). This was very vocal in areas of high concentration of mining, with nothing else in place required to make mine workers and non-mine workers feel confident or secure, as these areas already experience high unemployment, particularly youth unemployment.
3. Greens members attending Labor functions and “Bird Dogging” the event. This occurred at Andrew Leigh’s Banking Royal Commission community forum in Capricornia. The local Greens hijacked the forum. They pushed Stop Adani. They insisted on taking the floor. Painfully, they yelled out in the audience how Greens were the “original unionists”. They loudly made bold claims and how “Labor had destroyed the Fair Work Act to disadvantaged workers.” As well, at “Change the Rules” events, Greens approached people and said, “how awful Labor is and how the Greens are the only ones fully committed to changing the rules.”
Purists to the Left of Me – Tories to the Right
So, not only is the propaganda machine pumping out bullets from the right, hitting the major left, the minority left are throwing smoke bombs at the major left. Both have a political motivation for power and both motivations are about undermining Labor and preventing Labor from gaining power. One on a grand scale and one enough to try to “disrupt the system.”
To people who are not politically aligned, thinking about their vote, it does have an impact. It is layers and layers from both sides that the major left party cannot be trusted. Emotional contagion is a powerful thing.
This is not unique to Australia. We saw it with Fox News in the USA firing Propaganda bullets at Hilary and Bernie Bros throwing smoke bombs at Hilary. In the UK we saw the right-wing propaganda firing propaganda bullets at Corbyn and the Lib-Dems throwing smoke bombs at Corbyn. In fact, Smoke bombs were thrown internally within UKLabour itself!
This is the world we created. We read it and believe it unchallenged. We participate in it.
A Leader Alone is Not Enough
The difficulty is, I don’t believe that even the most perfect, charismatic major Left leader in the world can conquer this alone. Monbiot also refers to this in his video.
A very wise older Labor member, who is very active in volunteering in the community described politicians to me once. He simply said, there are anti-community politicians and pro-community politicians. Monbiot, proposed a similar community-based view via grassroots to fight propaganda.
In the decade ahead, each and every one of us has the power to end the politics that have divided us. We must insist that our respective parties do the same. We can do this by doing three simple things.
Three Simple Things
1. Be Pro-Community – Grasp a positive idea and write to local leaders and ask them to support it. Start a petition for that idea specific to your community. Ask people in your community to support your idea.
2. Become digitally aware – Start a Google doc, Web page or a free WordPress blog, and seriously combat propaganda from both the Oligarchs and the movement organisations and parties. Detail the claim and research your heart out and provide information and facts from Hansard, Senate Committees, official documents. Seek clarification from the source and the target where possible, read widely, including the processes of Parliament. Take into consideration, the disparate aims of achieving perfect policy and if flexibility is required to achieve power to make any progress at all.
Challenge your own findings for rigour. Ensure they are defensible. Challenge all media, mainstream media, Independent Media, Blogs, Facebook posts, Facebook Groups, Tweets gaining traction and memes. Share your findings. Talk openly about your findings to real-life friends and family.
3. Challenge and be prepared to be challenged – Stand up to propagandists on both the Left and the Right. Famous not so famous and wanna-be famous. Blue Ticks to Fred the 9 digit troll. Friend, Family or Foe. Armed with facts from item 2, you can do this with confidence. Be prepared for backlash. Be prepared to disagree with people you always just agree with or agree with to keep the peace. If you lose friendships because of truth-telling, just remind them your aim is to kill propaganda and you will fight it, with or without them. Ask them if they are helping the right, or hindering the left?
Control of All Spaces
Monbiot believes we need a concentrated effort against right-wing propaganda. The spaces they can control are in the mainstream media. Although the right-wing propaganda co-ordinators use social media to advantage the right-wing of politics, globally; on the other hand, they are also against it. That is because they cannot control it. We have seen members of the Liberals condemn Twitter frequently in recent times. The Prime Minister even claiming that Policy won’t be decided by those on Twitter.
Victoria Rollinson (@Vic_Rollinson), also has frequent Tweet threads about the weaknesses of mainstream journalism, including concerns about ‘insiders’ and objective fact telling. Ronni Salt (@RonniSalt) and Jommy Tee (@Jommy_Tee) are increasingly exposing issues that require serious investigation. They have been first to expose issues such as Grassgate and Watergate that lead to mainstream media following up and claiming the credit. There are also others on Social Media, including blogs who do some great work, exposing falsehoods, hypocrisy, largesse, greed, lies, impacts of political systems and departments on the disadvantaged and corruption.
Carl Stevens sums the above up nicely here:
Those with power and privilege also despise being publicly criticised, exposed and held to account, especially on the basis of strong evidence that they try to hide. That’s why this government and its mates are so secretive and dismissive of legitimate enquiry.— 💧Carl Stevens (@stevens_carl) December 27, 2019
What Political Parties Can Do
For a concentrated effort to kill Right-Wing Propaganda, Movement Party Propaganda against the major left also must cease. Importantly, if they are really “Gough’s Children’ as they claim to be; they would respect that IT’S TIME.
It’s Time for Greens, Movement Organisations and ad-hoc movement groups on social media to decide if their pursuit of perfect policy or disrupting the system is more important than getting rid of the Evangelical-worker-hating-poverty-creating-economy-destroying-lazy-ineffective-climate-denying-privatisation seeking-gluttony of Conservatism that is in power right now.
They need to stop the propaganda of fear and division, and the idea that flexibility and pragmatism are a weakness to progress. Crucially, fierce debates need to occur amongst themselves if perfect policy is indeed perfect if it has no chance at all.
They need to unite against the inaction of the right and support Labor’s way forward with regional jobs, climate action, national rail and other worker-centric announcements that may be yet to come. There is no joy for anyone living in poverty or without a job, in the game of who can wedge Labor the hardest.
The Labor Party, unfortunately, does need to work within the system. They need to make themselves available to every single major news organisation and speak to all potential voters via all mediums.
Worker-Centric Policy is paramount in this time of impending global change with threats of climate and automation. They need to lead us solidly and very clearly, with no complicated aims, through to gain power to steer us through these challenging times.
All Left Parties in opposition or in State Power, must make it a priority to encourage or fund digital literacy programs. If they can do neither, the Federal Leadership must be proactive in promoting this via their own channels.
The Labor Party has the power and the technology to create tools to counter claims from all types of propaganda. Speak loud and speak often, via text and video. Importantly, be bold enough to respond to claims made via comments on Social Media. Make it known that truth-telling in Democracy is paramount and false claims and misrepresentations will no longer be tolerated by the voting public.
Bye Bye – The Decade the Fake News Died
In a concentrated effort from every single person on the left side of politics, it is possible to have 2020 as the decade where propaganda and fake news has gone to die.
It is possible. We created the world of enabling the culture of propaganda by buying into it and participating in it. Creating a new world where propaganda is unable to thrive should be an ultimate goal.
We cannot survive the impending global changes and threats under austerity and increasingly authoritarian type rule. Stay Strong.
Crowe, Shaun & Gallop, Geoff. 2018, Whitlam’s Children: Labor and the Greens in Australia Melbourne University Publishing, Victoria
Wall, Steven, (2029) “Perfectionism in Moral and Political Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
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