Labor and Greens Divide Is Petty Factionalism

04/12/2019

Hell hath no fury like a Labor supporter who cannot handle even the slightest criticism of their party or who has an aneurism every time someone mentions the Greens. I’ve been at the receiving end of some rather defensive and dismissive statements for daring to suggest Labor still has much to improve upon, or that there are alternatives. Greens voters aren’t faultless either, being unable to view Labor as a viable option against the Coalition given the sad reality of politics in this country. What we end up with is… nothing, the Coalition keeps winning.

I have made it pretty clear on this site that I am no fan of the Labor Party, and while I agree with the Greens on many things, and vote for them, a fact I don’t keep secret, I refuse to align myself with any particular party. Part of that is refusing to directly associate with any entity in the State system in the same way I usually tend to disown the spectrum of ‘left and right’ – it tends to latch a whole lot of unnecessary baggage to your arguments, and doesn’t really mean much when you’ve been called a “right-wing nutjob” and a “greenie loony leftist”. I’d say that by default that makes me “centrist”, but pending an actual definition of a completely irrelevant political stance, I simply prefer ideas over labels (anarchist is probably the only one I accept based on its core principle of opposing all unjust authority, a simple enough one to explain).

But the ideal world does not exist, nor does my cynical mindset allow me to believe it ever will beyond the dreams and pages of heart-broken visionaries – it’s an internal conflict that offers no consolation. However, given the reality we have, there are indeed ways in which even oppressive and unjust systems can still be used to achieve worthy outcomes. Even capitalism, overseen and regulated by a fully – fully – democratic State, with a strong Trade Union movement and with properly constructed public services, could be feasible, and obviously preferable to the neoliberal, corporate dominated world we currently inhabit.

And so to those who decry the Labor Party, even such as they are now, from Greens voters to those further ‘left’ than the term liberal (any branch of socialism, except the State communist/Leninists), I would say nothing more than to accept that a revolution the likes of which would bring about socialism or anarchism is a destination at the end of an incredibly long journey. Along that path, there will be times where sacrifices will have to be made – not as a sell-out, or as an act of despair and desperation, but as acknowledgement that progress will be slow. The more people begin to learn about the power they have as a collective to improve the lives of themselves and their community, the closer we will get and the faster we can reach the goals that work for everyone.

We cannot force this onto people – that is the method of the Bolsheviks. It must be voluntary, which means education and understanding are crucial.

On the flip side, Labor loyalists need to grow a thicker skin. You lash out at everyone and yet cannot handle legitimate criticism – and no, I don’t mean the diatribe that comes from the Coalition, I mean legitimate questions and critiques regarding policy. Greens voters and others who are too “perfectionist” to see the value the Labor Party can bring are tedious to handle, but if their criticism is valid then it is still worth discussing. I would also hope there are others like me who can acknowledge the good things Labor has done who can bring a balance to that discussion.

The example that is being trotted out now by the Labor Party to attack the Greens on climate policy – why you would attack the Greens on climate policy and not the Coalition, who is letting our country burn at this very moment, is beyond me – is the ETS from ten years ago. Now, I agree with the Greens that it did not do anywhere near as much as it should have, but as minimal as it was, I believe it was stupid to discard it. I honestly don’t see how an ETS would have done all that much, other than put an arbitrary cap on carbon emissions that I am sure many companies would try exploit anyway, but admittedly it could have been a useful starting step.

Beyond that, the Greens did support the Gillard Labor government by putting a price on carbon – what was so lovingly called the “carbon tax” by the Coalition. The Coalition won in 2013, however, due to Labor infighting (and despite their own), and quickly abolished that. Di Natale has said he has approached both Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese about working together on climate policy, extending hand to help fight the Coalition, but has received nothing in return – until now, with attacks from the Labor Party calling out the Green’s actions from a decade ago. I am getting sponsored ads on Facebook by Terri Butler accusing the Greens of the climate policy breakdown.

I’m not going to defend the Green’s decision to oppose the ETS, but I will justifiably condemn Labor now for refusing to reconcile with them as they make slow concessions to the Coalition, particularly in Queensland where the State Labor government’s days are numbered. This is nothing more than petty factionalism in what could be a powerful opposition to a government that is dedicated to destroying our planet and country. There are objectively better ways to combat climate change, and the Greens – it’s in the name – will undoubtedly have a more ‘radical’ approach, but that is what we need, and we need to be working together to ensure we limit our impact on the global climate.

Another, much more bizarre individual case, is Van Badham. She has relentlessly attacked the Greens and their supporters for some time now, and this tweet came across my feed the other day:

“The only people who want Labor to be closer to the greens are those of bourgeois manners uncomfortable with the social awkwardness of political difference.

Those of us who prefer WINNING ELECTIONS know that avoiding the Greens’ toxic classism is crucial to Labor’s prospects.”

First of all, how is the election winning going, Badham? Secondly, as far as I am aware, the Greens have always been an ally of the working class, supporting Unions and policies that improve our public services and those in poverty and at the mercy of corporate power. “Toxic classism” is a weird phrase for a self-proclaimed Marxist to use, considering the whole point is class warfare, and while the stereotype of the “middle-class, inner-city leftie” might have some merit to it, that doesn’t necessarily take away from the ideas. Where they attack Labor, it is usually on the grounds of Labor’s capitulation to corporate power, or a lacking response.

That is where the Greens need to get it together and realise that attacking the major parties is great and all, but there does need to be discussion, and they can work with Labor’s less impactful but still valuable contributions to build on them. Labor needs to realise that there are legitimate concerns that can be raised about their policies, and if they wish to stick by them then that is their prerogative – but don’t then try to accuse those who disagree with you of being the culprit to things falling apart due to your inability to start a clean slate. (Considering Labor is still a rather capitalistic party, it is weird to see Badham, an apparent Marxist, so dedicated to them, although I must admit I’m not entirely aware of what her reasons are.)

Basically, Labor and the Greens need to get their shit together. They, and all their loyal little followers, can argue as much as they like after we take down the Coalition – something that we as a nation failed to do in May this year. There is plenty of scope for all of us to work together on that front, and given the urgency of the climate crisis, environmental policy should seriously be the easiest one to pull your heads in on. Just look at how the Ensuring Integrity Bill got thrown back – and watch as it happens again as it has been reintroduced.

Frankly, I cannot wait until we reach the stage of abolishing State power and bring about an anarchist society – there’d be much less high school level drama, one would hope, over who gets to rule the roost. Just tear down the roost.

 

Liked this? Read Labor Is Not Above Criticism

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