James Plested is an editor of Red Flag.
For decades the right in Australia and around the world have argued that any serious shift away from fossil fuels would, in addition to massive job losses, result in a punishing rise in living costs. This has, perhaps, been their single most effective piece of propaganda—one that positions them as the champions of workers and the poor who will be most impacted by increases in the price of electricity and other essential goods and services.
While there’s no doubt the Greens in Brisbane went into the election with a favourable set of circumstances for their campaign, it was the campaign itself, and the work done in the months and years preceding it, that super-charged their vote and delivered a historic breakthrough for the party.
It has become common, in recent years, to hear assertions that the world is already in the midst of a transition to a green economy. This kind of “green triumphalism”, however, is little more than a fantasy—one that is (and often consciously intended to be) a barrier to winning the kind of radical change we need.
Few people today are so naive as to believe that recycling, using a “keep cup”, switching off lights or having shorter showers will be enough to avert the unfolding environmental and climate catastrophe. The accumulation of evidence of the global and systemic nature of the problem has been sufficient to convince most that any genuine solution must involve radical changes to society as a whole, rather than just a shift in the consumption choices of individuals.
“We took an oath of friendship”, wrote French poet, writer and performer Tristan Tzara in his account of the origins of Dadaism, “on the new transmutation that signifies nothing, and was the most formidable protest, the most intense armed affirmation of salvation liberty blasphemy mass combat speed prayer tranquillity private guerrilla negation and chocolate of the desperate”. Today, unfortunately, Dadaism has suffered the ultimate fate of all major aesthetic movements under capitalism.
On 20 November, in cities around Australia, anti-fascists will rally against the far right—coinciding with right-wing, anti-vax protests planned for the same day as part of the “world wide rally for freedom”. It’s an opportunity for everyone who has watched with concern as the far right has latched onto and attempted to influence and grow out of the so-called freedom movement against pandemic-related public health measures to make a stand.