22 September 2021

Guy Rundle on the Left’s weak response to nuclear subs [$]: “Aside from Keating, there has been pretty much crickets, apart from somewhat less powerful voices, such as myself, Vanguard — the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) paper — and Green Left. Strange times, strange times… [W]hat has been notable is the lack of concerted, institutional opposition to our new, willed dependency in a white man’s Burton. Labor fell into line dutifully, the ACTU said not a word, the left unions did not break away and speak away, the Greens emphasised the nuclear danger angle, there was no word from the churches against a willed drift to war. … Through the 1950s and ’60s we had a vigorous peace movement — which, being run largely by the Communist Party, had its biases — and then we had one of the world’s largest anti-war and anti-nuclear movements from the ’70s through to the 2000s. The active support of unions and churches was essential to such a movement, as was the presence of a more vocal and independent Labor left — and a Labor leadership that retained aspects of Labor’s dissidence. That this coalition is now absent is a disaster for the country. I don’t believe for a second that it is indicative of a wider absence in society; I think many Australians have a deep disquiet about the direction being taken, the giddy, gung-ho commitment to a race-grounded imperial alliance. But the shifts in Australian society have been so great that there has been a split between elite power group leaderships, and an atomised population which is often to the left of the people leading them.”

(This overlooks the MUA and ETU’s well articulated opposition to the AUKUS announcement, and has nothing to say about the impact of lockdowns — both the rules and the fatigue — on the ability of a community groups to organise a display of opposition, but the broader point is well made.)