Answering Jose was Re: Replying to Brian was Re: Referendum Down Under

ken howard kenhow at
Fri Nov 12 01:35:08 MST 1999

As an unrepetant lurker on this list who at times feels moved to consider
letting forth with some words, only to find my long ago comrade Gary has got
there before me and put in much clearer form the trails I had started in my
mind to embark upon, it is with great shock and horror that I find I cannot
agree with him in respect to the significance of the republic referendum and
some of the conclusions he has drawn, i.e. the ignorance of the working
Prior to the referendum polls were showing over 70% of people wanted a
republic. Yet only 49 or so % voted for it. Why?
I live in rural Victoria and work with people who both are farmers and work
to make ends meet, and are in our union too.The microcosm of our little neck
of the woods and the discussions that took place pre referendum were very
mixed,but not of the type of any allegiance to the monachy.For the life of
the campaign before the referendum very little was spoken about, but on the
friday before the vote we did start discussing it and by far the prevalent
feeling was yes to a republic but not the politicians one.
I think that this can be gereralised across a lot of the working class and
indicates to me not a level of ignorance but a level of political
sophistication, I think this is also exemplified when it was the rural
working class that basically dumpted the Kennet Government in Victoria in
the recent state elections.
It concerns me greatly when all too easily from the left workers are written
off as ignorant.It seems to me that this feeds into the basis of
secterianism that has characterised the left and led to its marginalisation,
i.e. workers are ignorant and don't know whats in their own best interests,
we of the vanguard are not ignorant and all the workers have to do is be
educated and follow us down the yellow brick road of salvation.
Faced with immense cynicism and distrust of politicians of all hues,the
disintergration of the organised labour movement and the very real crisis of
consciousness in politics the vote against the politicians republic was a
progressive move and not one to be lamented. Not because it keeps betty
winsor as a super rich symbol feudal or otherwise but rather because i think
the majority of the " working class" couldn't give a rats ass. In the end it
was not a vote about the monarchy but rather in many workers minds it was a
vote against the politicians and what they stand for. And this level of
consciousness is the one the left has not a clue how to tap into. It is also
one that, as the phenomena of Hanson showed is a very real danger as whilst
Hanson has subsidded the emotiveness has not and could easily be reurected
by a more competent populist. The space for developing the alternatives is

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