Monday, December 31, 2012

Deploying the 'S' Word

You may have noticed several reports in the press recently on the subject of a move by The Greens to revise their policies with a view to avoid giving a free serve to their enemies in politics and the media. Although not directly related to the issue of BDS, it was really only a matter of time before media commentary on the matter fingered Greens support for the Palestinians as problematic.

The following introductory paragraphs to an opinion piece published in today's Age are apparently the first such instance. Its author, Nicholas Reece, is a former Labor apparatchik turned academic ("public policy fellow at Melbourne University's Centre for Public Policy"):

"The Greens party is at another crossroads. Will it reach its ambition of being the major left party in Australian politics, the new Australian Labor Party, or will it wither and follow the path of the old Australian Democrats? On the face of it, the Greens move to discard or reclassify many of their most contentious policies is a sensible one. Leaving the merits of the policy positions to one side, the campaign benefits appear significant. On campaign defence, it makes the Greens a smaller target to critics and helps avoid distracting attacks during a federal election year. In recent state byelections and the ACT general election, the Greens have been subject to significant attack over plans to freeze funding for private schools, including Catholic schools. In the NSW state election, a campaign was run against some of the more strident anti-Israel positions of the Greens. For the media, these are easy stories to write. For the ALP and Liberals, it makes for easy campaigning on the ground." (Greens see the campaign light at the political crossroads)

Leaving aside the question of whether Reece, who, as state secretary of the Victorian ALP, presided over the defeat of Victoria's last state Labor government, is really best equipped to opine on the Greens' search for electorally sustainable policies, my interest here goes solely to his use of those telling words "some of the more strident anti-Israel positions of the Greens."

He seems to be implying that any position critical of Israel, its ideological underpinnings, policies or behaviour, is ipso facto "strident" to one degree or another, 'strident' suggesting that the critic is at worst unhinged, and at best irrational, and that their views can therefore be safely disregarded.

(In citing the example of the last NSW state election, Reece is of course referring to Marrickville Council's attempt to incorporate the Palestinian BDS strategy in its praxis, and the bid by its Greens mayor, Fiona Byrne, to enter state politics, a move which triggered a strident, indeed hysterical, campaign by the Zionist lobby's media outlet, Murdoch's Australian.)

And so, simply by deploying the perjorative 's' word, a perfectly reasonable, non-violent strategy to help right the glaring wrongs - military occupation, apartheid, and enforced exile - inflicted by an aggressive ethnographic colonial-settler state on an essentially defenceless people is misrepresented  as being somehow too extreme and out there for popular consumption.

It goes without saying that this kind of distortion says more about the lazy, morally dubious Zionised culture of the ALP leadership, with its reflexive and nonsensical blather about Australia's "historic friendship with Israel" (to use Gillard's latest verbalisation), than it does about those within The Greens who have the moral fibre to publicly support Palestinian rights.

In a post at titled Should the Party stand for anything at all? Labor Party reformer Ben Aveling neatly sums up the party's parliamentary performers and machine men:

"Our grandees of 2012 represent no particular power base except the power that comes from being in government. Like a spaceship, they have no external support, no external constraints, no traction, inertia but not direction, and no external feedback. Our nomenklatura have little to no 'real world' experience. Too many have never worked anywhere else, are from political dynasties, and lack social peers outside the nomenklatura. They hear nothing that challenges their views. They mistake recycled prejudice for universally accepted wisdom. With no external contact, losing touch becomes inevitable." (15/7/12)

In describing the Labor nomenklatura, who hear nothing that challenges their views and who mistake recycled prejudice for universally accepted wisdom, Aveling could well have had Nicholas Reece in mind.

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