[Marxism] Re: ABC current affairs program on December's race riots inSydney

Ben Courtice benj2006 at connexus.net.au
Mon Mar 13 16:59:57 MST 2006

[cross-posted to Marxmail and Green Left discussion]

[Louise Walker posted a comment on Marxmail, which will be available at 
<http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/msg79834.html> for a day or two before it 
is moved to the archives. I've excerpted some of it followed by a couple 
of my own comments]

Louise Walker:
<< This new White Australia movement now has deep roots among people in 
their late teens and twenties, who almost universally wave the 
Australian flag in great numbers at sporting events, go on nationalist 
pilgrimages abroad, and attend ANZAC Day parades in their tens and 
hundreds of thousands. I recognise that there remains an alternative, 
progressive culture among young adults in Australia, but I think it is 
very much a minority culture. In the political vaccuum that emerged with 
the retreat of the Left, virtually the only ideology that has been 
available to this generation of young adults is the world according to 
John Howard. At the end of the program youths from both camps warn that, 
after Cronulla, racial violence between young white people on the one 
hand and young middle-eastern people on the other is now with us for good.

They might be wrong, and I hope they are. These are working class people 
after all, and one can only hope that Howard's massive attacks on their 
rights in the workplace (the few they have left) lead them to question 
their bigotry. >>

My comments:
The flag waving yobboes in my experience are mostly drawn from a fairly 
specific group -- a more materially comfortable, but not so well 
educated section of the working class. I don't think it comprises a 
majority of working class youth, although, that also depends on what 
suburb you're in, or what school you're at. I've seen a lot of 
Melbourne's different suburbs through working and  studying all over in 
the last eight years. I don't get the sense here that racist yobbos are 
in the majority. But it is true that racist and xenophobic nationalist 
views have grown since Howard's election -- obviously in confidence, 
also in virulence and popularity. Since they have the support of the 
media and government, they will obviously be a big threat to the left.

The sad thing for the left is that we haven't been able to link up with 
the other recently "rioting" sectors of youth -- aborigines, the 
unemployed in marginalised places like Macquarie Fields. Our 
intellectual, propagandist routines and our focus on the organised 
workers and students really leaves us unable to address these 
ultra-marginalised communities. And I don't think that in many such 
places a lot of youth will turn to racism -- too many in their own 
immediate communities are (in most places) immigrants or aborigines. 
Despite the schoolyard "inter-communal" feuds between "Aussies" and 
"Lebs" and "asians" and so on there is (at this stage) also a lot of 
inter-mixing and solidarity especially when you bring (for example) cops 
into the picture.

Those are my observations at any rate.

Ben Courtice

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