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Issue #1950 • 22 February, 2021

Shifting the blame: how a condemnation of the far right became an open attack on the left

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) put forward a Senate motion on 4th February to condemn and recognise a rising far-right in Australia. The motion made specific reference to the National Socialist Network, a far-right neo-Nazi group, as well as calling out Coalition members Craig Kelly and George Christensen for promoting several conspiracy theories related to COVID-19, vaccines and the US Capitol “coup” earlier in January.

The move would represent an important step in dealing with a growing problem that plagues Australia and countries around the world, costing many lives in the process. Of course, those of us with any insight into Australian politics will know this motion was far too good to be true. The Coalition, along with One Nation, the Centre Alliance, and independents Jacqui Lambie and Rex Patrick, had it significantly stripped and repurposed. The motion now makes no reference to the rise of the far-right, instead calling Australia “one of the most successful multicultural countries in the world” in a chauvinistic attempt to hide our severe issues with racism. All mention of Coalition members of parliament was removed, and specific reference to the contents of the dangerous far-right conspiracy theories was scrapped. Essentially all acknowledgement of the problem was taken out of the motion as a whole.

What was added is even more concerning. The motion now makes a distinct “both sides” style condemnation of extremism, arguing that the issue comes from both the far-right and the far-left. It lists anarchism and communism in the same breath as fascism, as if they have anything in common. If this is the case, where then, are these “far-left” mass shootings? Where are the “far-left” attacks on minority groups? It is easy to see that such “centrist” positions are merely used to target communists and not take responsibility for the disgusting actions they encourage. While we stand out there fighting for the rights of the downtrodden and exploited, the right commits another heinous act and calls it an issue of both sides.

During the vote for the LNP’s changes to the motion, the ALP opposed the amendments. However, when it came time to pass the amended motion, the ALP supported it, allowing it to pass without a vote. The Greens stated that, had a vote been taken, they would have voted against it.

Given the language of the initial motion, it is difficult to see how the ALP did not predict such a result in an LNP-dominated Senate. The original motion outright named Liberal politicians for their actions. For the ALP to expect any other result could only be sheer incompetence; the only alternative is that this was the intended outcome. Either way, this once again shows the ALP acting akin to a moderate wing of the LNP.

This shows an Australian right wing becoming more and more unified in their attacks on the left and the working class as a whole. It is now all the more important a task to build unity among left, working class, and progressive people, working in unity on issues held in common, and respecting differences. A divided left is not going to effectively oppose anyone but ourselves.

We must ask ourselves what it is they truly condemn when they speak of far-left extremism. Workers’ rights; anti-imperialism; climate change action? What they condemn is opposition to their capitalist lobbyists and the abusive system they uphold. It is with such actions that activities of activists become increasingly more dangerous and critical at the same time. A target is being fastened to our backs, one which justifies increasing hostilities. One which will make it easier for those with power to silence those without. One which is likely to be followed by a push for full legislation against we who fight against the capitalist system. It is in these times that we must remain firm in our opposition. The only way to overturn such repressive measures, is to ensure they do not succeed. Though they will try time and time again, our struggle will not be dulled.

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