May 3, 2013

The Left has lost its way through symbolism and stupidity

The Left is dead -- hopelessly lost in the minutiae of gestures, rainbow crossings, political correctness and confected outrage about the latest Geoffrey Barker piece. It's time for the Left to think about material conditions and macroeconomics.

Helen Razer — Writer and Broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and Broadcaster

Andrew Bolt is to David Marr as a Kraft Single is to raw milk chèvre. This is to say, these big cheeses long typified the differences between popular Right and Left thinking. Marr was, and remains, an acidic shock whose difficult charms reward the body politic when it takes the time to savour.


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66 thoughts on “The Left has lost its way through symbolism and stupidity

  1. j.oneill

    Helen, a splendidly splenetic piece but I was left with a conundrum that has bothered me for years. Where exactly is the “Left” in Australian politics? Of the parties represented in Parliament only the Greens have something resembling a “Left” agenda.

    The msm constantly remind us that such and such a Labor Member is of the ‘Left’ faction of the party, including to my complete surprise, the current PM. But I search in vain for a coherent analysis from anyone in the Labor Party that could be said to reflect a Left perspective.

    the day she was appointed PM by her parliamentary colleagues our ‘Left Faction’ PM stood on the steps of Parliament and said her three foreign policy priorities were (1) the US alliance; (2) maintaining the “mission” in Afghanistan; and (3) support for the State of Israel. Says it all really.

  2. JStephens

    A bit off topic but I’d like to clarify one thing regarding the single parents onto Newstart uproar. Yes it was disgusting but there is not a single mention that this actually had been happening since 1st July 2006, under the previous coalition govt. I know, because I was one of those single mothers who was unlucky to have separated from my violent ex-husband in 2007. Essentially there were 2 classes of single parents; those ‘lucky’ enough to have got in there before the deadline. Adele Horin wrote about it at the time in the SMH. So, when my youngest daughter turned 8 in 2008 I was unceremoniously dumped onto Newstart. As were all the other single parents post 1/7/06. The 80 odd thousand were merely brought into line with the rest of us. Think about it, they were also the more likely to have older kids anyway and thus more ability to work full time.
    Look, I think that ALL single parents have access to the higher pension payment and that poor unemployed people struggling on Newstart should also have a higher payment too. But to continue to protest about a group of lucky ‘grandfathered’ single parents being brought into line with the rest of us is a bit irksome. Where were the protests when the policy came into being almost 7 years ago? Or could it be that the uproar is due to the fact that it’s a Labor government?
    Disclaimer: I’m a Green, not a Labor voter

    Sorry Helen, but this has given me the shites since 2006

  3. Mark Duffett

    Wow, if this is calculated to piss both sides off, it succeeds brilliantly.

  4. Jonathan Maddox

    Seriously Helen — do you think we can’t campaign against endemic misogyny *at the same time* as engaging on macroeconomics and systemic racism? Have a little faith, and let us enjoy our rainbows.

  5. Gareth

    Chalk on sidewalks vs campaign for mental health reform.

    You can actually do both. I hate to say it, some people are better at the chalk rainbows than real hard work activism. Symbols are important, if only to increase visibility.

  6. Student T

    Very entertaining. Boy, I cannot wait to see the flack you are going to get from the Crikey commenters. Moderator get ready!

  7. Nathan Morsillo

    Hah! Swinging at left and right. Go Helen… Though I think there’s more about HOW the content you decry / want is delivered which impacts – because there is plenty of good stuff on both sides out there (in a longer form). But very few buying it or publishing to a front / ed page.

  8. pritu

    Thank you Helen, This echoes the frustration so many of us feel with the way politics is now done not only here but seemingly everywhere in the “democratic” world. Capitalism’s gargantuan butt sits solidly on every such polity and farts loudly and copiously through people like Bolt and Ackeman whenever issues of substance demand attention and thought. So we’re doomed to “enjoy” being ruled via the Right’s “tools” poncing about in lycra and bicycle helmets.

  9. Peter Murphy

    It’s nice the article uses “Left” (in scare quotes) rather than Left (without the quotes), but it doesn’t change the fact that leftish people are a pretty heterogeneous group. Some of them argue serious policy, some of them draw rainbow crossings, and some do both. Trying to put them into one bag is the sort of Janetalbrechtsensian rhetorical tactic that caused me to stop reading The Australian 10 years ago.

    Helen, I’ll be honest. I prefer the serious end of the spectrum. I live in Queensland, which is dealing with some serious issues regarding the LNP government’s privatisation agenda. There’s going to be a serious policy fight ahead. It is literally a “life-and-death” struggle: selling off the assets will reduce in such things as worse health services, and there will be people who will die as a result. So, yes, policy is deadly important.

    But none of that is incompatible with symbolism. I don’t mind people drawing rainbow crossings on roads. I don’t see it as incompatible. Maybe it’s generally not a problem.

    Isn’t this article pushing some sort of dualism that would cause Derrida to chortle?

  10. Robert Brown

    tldr; – piss off the lot of ya

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