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Building A New Independent Powerful Left (video)

This is an updated version of something I first posted in 2013, no long after the Federal election, a video (scroll down) interview with Naomi Klein. I am reposting it a) it is my go to piece that explains so much of what I am thinking and b) a lot has shifted in the previous two years. It was originally posted as a response to the election win by the Liberal National Coalition, now it is posted, with updates, as an example of moving forward towards the next election.

Naomi Klein, Canadian author of the books No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate is speaking in this 10-minute piece about the need to create a new, independent from political parties, Left.

Although this is in the US American context of left-wing groups becoming tied to the Democrat party, Klein talks about how the Right is dominating the conversation to create a rage, rage that is doing the Left no favours, by targeting their rage at the economically-invisible, instead of those who are creating the financial apocalypse.

Selected quotes from the interview:

“The problem is there’s rage across the board. The right has organised itself very effectively and with frighteningly deep pockets to provide a voice for right-wing, often racist rage. A lot of people at the center/liberal end of the spectrum spend a lot of time trying to managing rage, particularly around election time, and there really aren’t very many outlets to voice progressive rage – rage at the elites, rage at those millionaires and billionaires. And it’s a crisis – a crisis in this country that comes from the fact that there isn’t a real left. there are a lot of institutions that pretend to be an independent left and then turn into an arm of the Democratic Party around election time – and election time in this country seems to never end.

We have to build that independent left – and it has to be so strong, and so powerful, and so militant, and so radical that it becomes irresistible. Because when people speak truth like that, and then when they hear that rage, their rage, reflected in a constructive way, so that it isn’t channeled toward the most vulnerable people, but actually going up the ladder, as opposed to down the ladder, then that builds a movement, and it builds a movement that politicians can’t ignore, they can’t ignore that constituency. Because this model isn’t working at all.”

In the original post, people took except to the word “militant” perhaps regarding its use as interchangeable with “militia”. To me, militant is about discipline, principle, and unyielding. I am a vegan and have heard some people say things like “militant vegan, you know those who don’t use shampoo tested on animals” – to me that is not militant, that is very basic, to the core vegan, I mean if your shampoo is tested on animals, you aren’t a vegan. So that is what militant means to me. Uncompromising on your core beliefs.

In the original post, some people had a problem with anger. Anger is an energy, anger is what get you up in the morning and keeps you going after midnight. Apathy can be paralysing, it can make you feel powerless, like walking in quicksand, apathy is what keeps you in bed all day, easy listening on the radio and mind-numbing drivel on the tv. If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.

First you get angry, then you channel that anger into energy, something productive.

I learned a long time ago that those in power don’t care that you’re angry, they care if you use that anger to do something about it.
– Al Sharpton

I find people who say “don’t get angry” aren’t really in touch with their emotions, if you don’t feel a burning, white-hot anger at what has happened to this country under PM Abbott and PM Turnbull, you must be some kind of robot. Anger does not mean losing your temper, or lashing out. Anger, to me, means being so furious at what is going on, that you need to do something about it, “doing nothing” is no longer an option.

Gough Whitlam made famous his phrase “maintain the rage” – but Whitlam’s full quote was actually “Maintain your rage and enthusiasm”, the enthusiasm part is just as important as the rage.

What I took away from this video, and people may disagree with me is knowing what your personal values are, separate from a political party, and never, ever compromising on those values.

The owners of this blog and the author do not necessarily endorse everything in this interview.

38 comments

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  1. Florence nee Fedup

    We need to get our enthusiasm back, along with the belief, we want is right.

    We need to stand up very straight as we can, yelling to the stars we are proud to be lefties, even rusted on Labor.

    We need to work hard to make Labor what we want to.

    Now is the time to get behind the party and it’s leader.

    Keep in mind, governments lose elections, so we need to be ready to fill in the voids they need, as they fall apart.

    I still feel in my gut, Dutton will falter more, be the third minister to go.

    The fourth will be whoever sent that photo to the media.

  2. Florence nee Fedup

    I watch a show last night on Sky. Executive Director of the Joint Meetings Industry Council , business representative and a Labor man discussing TURC report. Cameron was so angry, he could hardly put two words together. Stated this he cared not about Shorten as he was a dead man walking. Raving on that Heydon had shown how corrupt the unions are, that all his recommendation must be put in place.

    it was not was said that amaze me, but the anger that engulfed his whole body.

    Why such anger. I suspect the anger is because Turc and what they wanted from it is slipping away, becoming a non event.

    I have this feeling that the right will be stupid to write shorten off. In fact i have a gut feeling the fear him, not landing a glove on him in the last couple years.

    They have been highly unsuccessful in making Shorten the target. Abbott couldn’t do it. Highly unlikely Turnbull will be anymore successful.

    Shorten is not making himself a small target, he has actually taken himself out of the ring. The coalition is left fighting with themselves. Shadow boxing, as there is no target to hit

    Time will tell.

    PS Shorten won’t distance himself from the unions. He will enhance them, as only a good Labor politician can do.

    Will have guts to be proud of Labor heritage, warts and all.

  3. Florence nee Fedup

    If one reads comments in such as the Australian, the shrill comments praising Abbott, at expense of Turnbull, Shorten hardly gets a look in. Has grown in numbers since New year.

  4. Chris

    The problem for Labor is that Shorten has no rage, and appears bereft of enthusiasm. The Labor platform has bought in to many elements of the neoconservative con job (think brutalising refugees, prevaricating on TPP and ISDS in trade agreements, softening on GMOs and food labelling, strangely mute on the assaults on Medicare and the privatisation of public assets, ignoring the tenets of Modern Monetary Theory).

    In the absence of a local Corbyn, Australia needs a new progressive movement, free of the Labor right.

  5. cornlegend

    “Building A New Independent Powerful Left ”
    It’s never gonna happen .
    I have more chance of being the first atheist Pope .
    I forget how many times this has been touted, even back was Gough was in power ,
    Australian politics is littered with the corpses of long dead tries

  6. TurnLeft2016

    Florence nee Fedup
    agree, we need to get our enthusiasm back that we could change things, rather than just react to what is happening

    I think too many people are just lurching from one outrage to the next, enjoying their outrage but not doing anything about what caused it

    I dont know who “Cameron” is that you refer to, I dont have Murdoch tv, but the Right are so over-entitled, that one not as far right as them make them furious they dare to exist

  7. TurnLeft2016

    Chris – was informed this morning that Shorten is doing 400 townhalls across Australia currently. This has got zero publicity in my part of the world, its hard to be seen by the public as having enthusiasm, if youre not seen by the public.

  8. TurnLeft2016

    cornlegend – exactly, cant work, wont work, nothing we do will change things, lets not try to change things, lets not try anything, lets all just work ourselves into the grave, go home at night, eat our chips and gravy in front of Foxtell and get up the next day and do it all again

  9. cornlegend

    Now I know you are young and full of enthusiasm and I applaud that and would encourage you , and believe me after 50 years involved in and working for politicians and Unions I don’t sit around waiting for shit to happen { no Foxtel in my joint thanks} but you seem to have a leg over two horses .
    It is one thing to fight the LNP and their attacks on the poor , the workers and those in need and the miriad of other disgusting sick things they get up to in regard to country, infrastructure, the environment etc. and I’ll do that all day long ,
    That, I thought was your main goal, unseat the usurpers .

    ““Building A New Independent Powerful Left ”
    rings of the creation of a new party or entity .{which has failed before, and on Greens form ,isn’t all that electorate tolerable }
    that is what I think will never happen .
    Now, obviously I hit a nerve, so I’ll leave you to your direction and I’ll continue on mine .
    My hope is a LNP opposition, nothing more nothing less

  10. TurnLeft2016

    cornlegend

    all im doing is putting out as many ideas, from all sources, of activism, and “it cant work, so dont try” really isnt helpful… not hit a nerve, I just dont understand people who say “wont work, dont try” all that does is when someone comes along, theyre not inspired, theyre just dragged down into a sea of apathy

    if you watched the video, you would know that Klein is saying the Opposite of forming a new party, she is saying remove all those things you like from the hands of the parties

    Your negativity is always welcome, that is how we will win this war

  11. Sir ScotchMistery

    Here’s a start.

    Why on god’s round green Earth would you pay murdoch for squat? (my choices re caps in both situations).

    Old rupert is the issue. He’s the one guiding the four in hand down whatever roads are needed to get what HE wants and the devil take the hindmost. For god’s sake he owns the COALition and the ALP aren’t that far to the rear as it currently stands. WHY DO WE BUY HIS CRAP AND FEED OURSELVES ON HIS SHIT AND HIS LIES, WHILST PUTTING FOOD ON HIS EFFING TABLE.

    The beginning is to not buy his rags or watch fuxtel, and instead pay for The Saturday Paper and read it in your local lefty coffee shop. The second step is to make a great noise unto others.

    The start of that is to design your own wearable statement and get it made, and wear the damn thing. Start conversations with the deadly dull, the elderly particularly.

    Yesterday I spoke to a woman who brags about being 80. Good I say, but still voting liberal I bet. “If I voted anything but LNP my father would turn over in his grave.

    That’s the fight we need to have. My note to her was “he could likely use the exercise after all these years, lying there gathering dust”.

    Her response was to recount a story about Bob Hawke and his womanising, and another about Gough Whitlam and his predilection for young men.

    FFS what does it matter, one of them is dead and the other in God’s waiting room. They aren’t in politics and only the intelligentsia listen to the one still kicking. They have no influence on party politics.

    My major point is always not to vote ALP rather than LNP, it’s to actually THINK before you vote, whoever you vote for. Don’t vote that way just because daddy did. Those old people are who are screwing this country with their mindless bullshit votes.

    Another printable statement:

    Who raised your pension last? Hint: It wasn’t Malcolm or Tony.

  12. mark delmege

    Get angry, get the facts and criticise creatively (but the criticism must be reasoned and valid) anyone who deserves it. Build alternatives anyway you can.

  13. TurnLeft2016

    mark – agree

  14. TurnLeft2016

    SSM – stick around, ive got Murdoch boycott posts coming up…. 11 March is Ruperts birthday, I really would love a world wide boycott and cancellation on that day, or before

    i often tweet anti Murdoch / boycott Murdoch things and someone tweeted me ‘but then what are we supposed to watch’, as long as YOU have something to watch, it doesnt match that Rupert is enslaving the minds of the entire country, nothing is more important that YOUR comfort

    others say ‘i only get it for the football’ but then later they tweet all sorts of other shows they watch on the grounds that theyve paid for it, might as well get value for money

    Im starting to regard people who pay for murdochs products as subsidising my slavery, the same way i would people who donate to the Liberal party and praise the IPA

  15. nurses1968

    TurnLeft2016
    You are getting off to a bad start picking on proven fighters for the cause like cornlegend who have battled on dozens of sites and various campaigns for years now
    This might help your education

    http://www.greypowerlabor.com/#!who_we_are/c1enr

  16. TurnLeft2016

    nurses

    exactly, im wrong, WONT WORK SO DONT TRY

    dont know why i bother

  17. nurses1968

    TurnLeft2016
    You missed my point.
    We could have an election in as little as 3 months and that to me would be an immediate priority to be ready for that .
    You may have the years to contemplate a whole new Left structure but unless we want a decade of LNP rule the fight should have started to defeat that ,
    new parties, new structures , new groups aren’t something that would ever even be a pipe dream before an election is upon us .
    If you read the link I provided there is a fight for left rank and file activity,there, and on many other sites as well.
    That component in happening, the real deal is to defeat Turnbull in my view

  18. TurnLeft2016

    nurses

    exactly, wont work, dont try, i got your point

  19. mark delmege

    We all know Labor is better than Liberal but it is never enough. They work within a straightjacket and are beholden to the power elite almost as much as the Liberals. They will suck up to the likes of Murdoch BHP Empire and the rest and they might (maybe sometimes) like to do more but they won’t do it without popular support. And popular support for humane policies will only happen though extra-parliamentary organisation. It is foolish to believe parliamentarians will lead the fight. We “WE’ have to drag them forward and build support within Australia for better policies and understanding of what is needed in Australia and our relations outside of Australia. They (politicians) will follow the mainstream media as a guide but the MSM is not our ally – never was, never will be. The MSM should never be our litmus test … ever.

  20. Miriam Possitani

    TurnLeft2016
    It may come as a bit of a shock to you but you didn’t invent activism .
    Read the AIMN archives, it may be an awakening and give you a lift

  21. Florence nee Fedup

    It is wrong to say Shorten has no enthusiasm. He has made some good speeches over the last few months. There are I believe at least 52 policies in the public arena.

    Seems to connect when addressing live audience. I think one will see the rage, as it is called from now on. It is wrong to say the party has been doing nothing.

    They are working the web.

    He can’t do it on his own. Impossible. If we don’t want Turnbull to win, if we care, we have no choice but to get behind Labor that exists now. Not one from the past, or one we would like in the future.

    It can be done.

  22. TurnLeft2016

    i know this, why do you assume i dont know that

    because im so stupid right?

    actually what comes as a shock to me, is how much people prefer to say how wrong i am about everything all the time, rather than just ignore something they disagree with

  23. Florence nee Fedup

    Read the AIMN archives and the Cafe site that they arose out of.

  24. TurnLeft2016

    Florence is that aimned at me? do you assume i havent read this from the beginnning? i mean who am i – just a stupid little nobody who walked in here 3 days and thought i was something special? really?

    no, im someone who was sick of cut and paste ABC sites for outrage posts, and thought i stick to what i do best

    and apparently what i do best i not smile and laugh while ppl condescend to me about how stupid, thieving, ignorant, arrogant i am

  25. Florence nee Fedup

    Sorry. I haven’t aim my comments at anyone. Speaking more in general at what many are saying. I didn’t have anyone in mind, Sorry for that. Will have to be more careful in my wording.

    I was attacking perceptions of Shorten and Labor that seem to be abroad.

  26. TurnLeft2016

    Florence then my profound apologies, when most of the comments ive received today have been spiteful and negative, i didnt stop to read yours any other way, i am very sorry

  27. Florence nee Fedup

    No need to be sorry. Comments shouldn’t be personal if one can help it. I see it as being about ideas, Put them out and see where they lead.

    Politics today appear to be about perception, not facts or beliefs. If so, then the name of the game is to create a perception that the government is bad and maybe Labor can do it better,

    Sadly it is not about exchange ideas and what benefits most.

  28. townsvilleblog

    Unfortunately this has lead to a number of splinter groups forming such as Australian Progressives, and the TLC WHO COMPRISE OF DISILLUSIONED MEMBERS OF THE alp. The ALP has drifted to the right wing of politics under Hawke and Keating and has never returned to its roots.

  29. MarkH

    Radical solidarity is necessary. Build community networks that organise around local issues. It’s not necessarily about political parties anymore but addressing the need for participation in society in general. In this postmodern context alienation has taken the form of excluding people from being able to properly process information. The need for left renewal around fixing this and addressing WHY people can’t participate in society properly is so necessary.

    There is no independent ‘left’ without the masses.

  30. Matthew Oborne

    Di Natale rejected the idea of being left in an interview on Bolt. essentially saying the greens issues are too important to pigeonhole, we need people to realise this effects them and understand the conditions of the planet we live on dont follow politics.

    For many this could be as useful a way to go perhaps even more so than more polarised politics.

    From early times we have cut down forests the great forests of europe the cedars of Lebanon our ancestors didnt replant.

    It isnt left to want to not destroy forests or at least it shouldnt be.

    When a potential massive oil reserve was found in the cooper basin all I could think was for our sake leave it there.
    That is as much a self preservation as it is a left ideal.

    Pillaging the planet isnt going well and it doesnt take a climate scientist to understand why it is bad for all of us.

    If a company can’t think beyond making money and in so doing proposes more coal mines, more deforestation, more pollution then they are working against the interests of the people living on this planet.

    Sure they align themselves with a political party who will allow them to do it.

    The right have become fringe now just as the greens were once and sometimes still considered fringe.

    The right will have to accept marriage equality at some point because it is an equality society needs.

    Just as they will have to accept political parties can not accept donations from environmental vandals.

    It is as important to make the right see environmental issues as an environmentalist does.

  31. cornlegend

    It seems Di Natale is moving right, I guess anything for a taste of power
    According to Albo
    Greens political party leaves Liberal option open

    Comments yesterday from Greens political party Leader Richard Di Natale suggesting that the Greens would consider entering into government with the Liberal and National Parties are deeply concerning for progressive voters.

    When asked about supporting major parties in an interview yesterday, Senator Di Natale said:

    You have to make these decisions election by election. You work out whether you can strike a formal agreement with one side of politics or the other.

    At precisely the time when Malcolm Turnbull must be held to account for his abandonment of principle on climate change, marriage equality and other issues, the Greens Party Leader is leaving open the option of supporting a Liberal Government.

    While progressives should be scrutinising Malcolm Turnbull, Senator Di Natale is flirting with him instead.

    http://anthonyalbanese.com.au/greens-political-party-leaves-liberal-option-open

  32. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Left Turn writes an enthusiastic article which I commend.

    Real Left people know market ideology permeates the whole of society.

    Political elites must scoff at the shuffle to the right by the Greens under Richard Natale in the hope of winning one or two more inner-city federal seats.

    Do two or three Green members in the House of Representatives represent the slightest challenge to Malcolm Turnbull? Likewise, in NSW with a similar number of representatives in both houses: Premier Beard is far from troubled.

    Labor has to be careful that it does not drift too far to the right. A daring provocative opposition to electricity privatization worked well in NSW.

    Privatization merely transfers public debt into household debt price hikes on our utility accounts,

    I was really disappointed that the Greens supported the tightening of the asset test for part pensions by co-operating with the LNP. Assets above $800 000 now mean no part-pensions.

    Almost 600 major companies pay no tax in Australia and many of these companies are electricity suppliers and major polluters who retain clapped out technology until it is worn out and ready for a take-over by another anti-union power generation company.

    Once again: Keep up the good work Left Turn!

  33. Möbius Ecko

    …who retain clapped out technology…

    Or Denis Bright they gold plate the infrastructure and services way beyond what is necessary so they can reap State funded subsidies through a loophole that taxpayers pay a double whammy for, all whilst paying little to no Federal taxes.

  34. thenewagnostics

    I think both the left and the right should be engaged! It is difficult to expect either the right or the left to solve everyone’s problem. It is never going to be easy without the help of the other side. Ralph Nader is a proponent of this approach and in his book “Unstoppable”, he urges activists from both camps to resolve issues together. I too believe it’s the right approach, it’s never been done, it should be given a chance. Alan B. Nagy

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