****Anti-fascists plan to challenge Far Right demonstration. “Stop the Far-Right in Melbourne”****
Progressive activists and antifascists have declared their intent to mobilise in opposition to a far-right protest planned for Melbourne on November 20 and “take back the city”.
November 20 marks the next in a series of marauding far-right demonstrations that have brought violence to the streets of Melbourne, including attacks on the CFMEU. The protests are promoted by the far-right group Reignite Democracy Australia, which recently formed an alliance with Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. This movement is bringing together the hard right in Australia, and progressives have to respond.
It is clear from media reporting and our own investigations that hardcore fascists like Neil Erikson (former leader of the Lads Society), members of the National Socialist Network and the Proud Boys, have embedded themselves inside the so-called “kill the bill” movement and are spreading their Nazi propaganda. On the weekend, Craig Kelly hired a member of the now-defunct fascist Lads Society to act as his security detail. This is a dangerous developent for social movements in Melbourne, as the far fight is openly talking about attacking Jewish monuments such as the Holocaust Museum, and threatening violence against individual politicians and activists.
In the last week, these protests have become more extreme with chants of “Kill Dan Andrews” at rallies and even a noose and gallows being brought out the front of the Victorian Parliament.
“The far right is willing to use violence and threats against those whom it declares ‘enemies’,” says rally organiser Nahui Jimenez. “This must be unacceptable to most people and we call on them to join our rally.”
The counter-protest has been called by the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF), a broad group of progressive activists and left-wing organisations. The counter rally has been called to draw public attention to the growth of conspiratorial, anti-human and fascistic politics promoted by these groups.
“Hostility to vaccines has become a gateway to the far-right globally”, explained rally organiser Nahui Jimenez. “We will not allow fascist groups to propagate their bigotry and occupy our streets without resistance”, she said.
The organisers of the so-called Freedom rallies in Australia are aligned with a global far right movement that is attempting to disguise its racist agenda behind the facade of being pro-choice. In reality, they stand against social solidarity and the frontline healthcare workers whose vaccination hubs these groups have attacked. They propagate disinformation about COVID public health measures to confuse people and spread fear as a recruiting tactic.
“The presence of Trump flags and QAnon conspiracy theorists at these protests highlights a connection with the US far right, which has continued to grow and cohere over the course of the pandemic around anti-public health and reactionary demands”, says Jimenez. “The likes of Craig Kelly, George Christensen and One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts would love to mimic right-wing Trump style politics here, and we’re determined to stop them”, says Jimenez.
To stand against this rising threat, we need as many people out on the streets as possible. “Melbourne has traditionally been a city in which the far right loses when it attempts to build its numbers. However, the willingness of far right figures to put their supporters at risk by holding events during pandemic lockdowns means that they are now on the front-foot.
We have to rebuild the antifascist cause,” says Nahui Jimenez; “if we do that starting on 20 November, we can take back our city from the far right.”
The CARF rally will not be seeking confrontation with the far right. The protest will assemble at the 8 Hour Day monument on the corner of Russell and Victoria Streets, in Melbourne CBD from 12 noon. “The 8 Hour Day Monument represents everything that we, in CARF, hold dear,” a statement on the CARF Facebook page explains. “ We are proud to stand in the footsteps of those who saw the value of collective action, social solidarity and fighting for a better society for all.”
It will be a COVID-safe event.
For more info contact Nahui Jimenez on 0403 735 131
Melbourne: 12pm, 8 Hour Day Monument, Saturday 20 November. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/261299109308167
Sydney: 11am, Town Hall, Saturday 20 November. FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/211105574442756/
Brisbane: 11am, King George Square, Saturday 20 November. FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1940925539421087
Perth (organised by sister group United Against Bigotry and Racism): 2:30pm, Yagan Square, Saturday 20 November. FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/367256001759644/
Despite record numbers of people being vaccinated, and the proven efficacy of vaccines, the Australian anti-vaxxer movement has not gone away. After a series of violent anti-health measure protests in Melbourne in September and October, the anti-vaxxers have continued to hold small rallies and marches, even after most restrictions have been lifted. The anti-vaxxer cause seems to be morphing. While opposition to vaccine mandates is still their central platform, the various factions involved in these mobilisations are now broadening their agenda to encompass a libertarian middle class concern for their so-called rights and freedoms that they supposedly lost during the pandemic.
This is very much aligned to a broader international phenomenon that has seen right-wing extremist political formations infiltrate the anti-vax milieu with explicit far right propaganda and talking points. Globally, we can identify an overlap between the anti-vaxxers and deluded QAnon conspiracists; increasingly, these individuals are being influenced by explicitly fascist sects such as the Proud Boys and other Nazi-adjacent gangs.
This is obvious in the supposedly secret chatrooms the fascists and the antivaxxers inhabit on Telegram, Gab, and Discord. In one recent chat, a Melbourne woman introduced quotes from Hitler into a discussion of the anti-vax protest movement and received several approving comments. The fascist threat in Australia is currently small, but the Nazi-aligned groups have latched onto the anti-vax movement, and they see it as a fertile recruitment ground.
Therefore, we must take the far right seriously. They are fed on a constant diet of misinformation about COVID, about the vaccines, and about a conspiracy of shadowy political forces using the pandemic as a cover for the real agenda: to somehow dismantle individual freedoms by making everyone wear masks and be injected with unknown substances to control their minds and actions.
This is complete nonsense: it is both unscientific with regards to the virus and the vaccine, and it is ideological nonsense because the capitalist state—as bad as it is—is not yet ready to abandon the cloak of electoral democracy to impose a dictatorship.
Ironically, it is the fascist wannabees at the core of the anti-vax movement itself that have such authoritarian tendencies. This is becoming more open and explicit, even as it shelters under the false flag of freedom. There is only a small gap between believing in shadowy conspiracy theories and being convinced by the anti-Semitic lie that vaccines are part of a Jewish plot to enslave the world. The fascists understand they need to broach the “J question” carefully, but they are using the cover of the anti-vax movement to introduce people to their racist ideas.
Alongside explicit fascist elements, the November 20 “freedom” rally organisers include the hard right group Reignite Democracy Australia (RDA) which has recently announced a merger with Craig Kelly and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP). This is an opportunistic electoral alliance, but it is a good fit for the far right because Craig Kelly continues to push Ivermectin (horse deworming paste) as a cure for COVID and this resonates with the anti-vaxxers.
As I have previously written, this coalition of crazies will boost the UAP’s electoral prospects. The anti-vaxxer and false freedom crowd are a Trojan horse for the right-wing electoral politics of Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly. The UAP is opposed to action on climate change and supports the expansion of Australia’s coal mining industry because that’s how Clive Palmer got his filthy riches. Craig Kelly is a homophobic and racist bigot: he voted against marriage equality and supports the Morrison government every step of the way. We know that the UAP will preference the coalition and so supporting this mob is ultimately a vote for Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce. Worse than this—as bad as another Morrison term would be—is that electoral success will allow the UAP/RDA group to claim a victory, and this will help them grow. This will strengthen the far right and provide more potential recruits for the fascists.
This reason alone should be enough for anybody concerned about Australia’s future ability to resist the rise of fascist violence to come to the counter-rally. However, if you need further convincing, here’s CARF’s top 10 reasons why we need to be there and bring ourfriends.
- We can’t let the far right normalise the idea of mass death due to covid!
The size and scale of the anti-vaccine and COVID denying rallies are a significant leap forward for the forces opposed to essential health measures. Their efforts are helping to normalise a situation where we all accept mass deaths due to COVID for the sake of some misguided sense of individual freedom. The pandemic has shown us otherwise, that in fact we are all connected and that it is necessary for us to collectively participate in public health measures to free ourselves from the impacts of the virus.
- We need to make it clear that these demonstrations involve dangerous far right and fascist forces!
It is important to counter demonstrate and to explain to a wider audience that these mobilisations involve a variety of far-right and fascist forces. In Melbourne one of the most prominent known figures has been AVI Yemeni, the self-declared “biggest Jewish Nazi in the world.” Other figures include Harrison McClean who is well known for his antisemitic conspiracy theories.
- Far right politics should be opposed through protest!
We need to counter-mobilise to discredit conspiratorial anti-vax ideas, highlight the involvement of the far-right, and put forward our own arguments: that vaccines are about social solidarity, and covid-19 is a serious threat to people’s health and lives. We need to counter them in numbers and energy, and argue their ideas are grossly wrong and extremely right wing.
- We cannot let the far right grow!
The far right and fascists have mobilized around the issue of opposing vaccines and health measures to recuperate their forces here in Melbourne and worldwide. They’re using these protests as a chance to grow and organise themselves. This is a dangerous development and ignoring them will not make them go away. If we want to make sure that these forces can’t grow we need to highlight their politics for what they really are, and show them that the majority of public opinion is against them.
- It is important to break the vaccine hesitant from the serious COVID deniers and the fascists.
Not only have previous anti-vaccine demonstrations bolstered ideas hostile to social solidarity, but they have opened yet another opportunity for hardened far-right and fascist organisations to capitalise on the fears and anxiety provoked by misinformation and hostile media reporting of public health measures. These demonstrations only offer fertile soil for them to pedal their bigoted conspiracy theories amongst a crowd open to these ideas. However, as most of the rally goers are not fascists themselves, they can be broken away if confronted and made aware of the sort of fascistic company they’re keeping. We need to counter-mobilise to discredit their ideas, disrupt the far-right’s ability to recruit and publicly push for a pro-health agenda.
- Vaccines and masks are a health and safety issue
Workers need to take vaccines and masks seriously to keep themselves safe at work. Selfish anti-vaxxers put themselves and their workmates at risk of infection, or worse. The far right is hostile to trade unions and workers’ organisations because they support capitalism—the Proud Boys even make this explicit in their propaganda—and therefore we have to insist that workers have the right, and the responsibility, to protect themselves by being vaccinated and wearing a mask when appropriate.
The pandemic is a union issue, and one that the workers’ movement more broadly must address. Capitalism doesn’t care about workers’ health because it puts profits above saving lives. We need to mobilise to counter this anti-worker and anti-human rhetoric and to encourage the trade union movement to take up the fight for COVID-safe workplaces.
- Show solidarity with healthcare workers!
Health care workers are on the frontline in the effort to keep all of us safe. Not only do doctors and nurses work tirelessly at testing and vaccination sites, they also staff the ICU wards where many COVID patients end up. We have already seen anti-vax protestors attacking health workers in other parts of the world and these dangerous far right mobilisations will encourage similar outrages in Australia.
- Solidarity with teachers: Schools are not yet safe
We know that children are at risk of both infection from and transmitting the COVID virus. There is ample evidence from international studies that schools are likely to be sites of infection and transmission. This puts students, teachers, and families at risk. We are campaigning for safety measures in schools and supporting teachers who want to take action to highlight their concerns about returning to work while it is not safe to do so. We acknowledge the difficulties that parents face with learning from home, but this requires the proper support measures from governments, not blanket orders that schools re-open without adequate safety protocols in place.
- COVID-19 is a virus caused by Capitalism
The ultimate cause of the pandemic is global capitalism. The virus spread from the wild because of food scarcity in China forcing people to kill and eat animals already at risk because of encroachments on their habitat for farming, logging and extractive industries. The spread of the virus around the world was also facilitated by global travel that was not properly or quickly regulated to prevent cross-border infection.
Infections could have been quickly brought under control in many places if governments had acted faster with public health measures. The hesitancy to do this was the result of pressure from business leaders who were more concerned about how profits would be affected by an economic slowdown. This is well-documented in Australia. The failure to prevent the Ruby Princess cruise ship from discharging infected passengers in Sydney led to the first big national outbreak. The Morrison government refused to act quickly with purpose-built quarantine facilities, and this allowed the virus to escape again from so-called ‘hotel quarantine’. The government was forced to introduce Jobkeeper only after it was embarrassed by the ACTU and the scheme was ended prematurely which led to thousands of people being left without income for many months. The pressure to reopen the economy while the virus is still at large and not under control is also driven by the demands of the bosses. It is workers who will pay for the ultimate cost.
- Who’s streets? Our streets
We need to mobilise on November 20 to protest against the far right and to show that there is opposition to their false promise of freedom and their anti-science conspiracy theories. In addition, progressive forces need to return to the streets to reconnect with supporters and rebuilt lost momentum. The political and economic crises that mark the period of capitalist decline were not put on pause during the pandemic.
Attacks on working class organisations continue; wages and conditions are still under threat as the capitalist class seeks to claw back its lost profits and margins. The global recession is not over and this has led to an increase in imperialist tensions between the USA and China. Australia is caught up in this new cold war. The COP26 climate conference has done nothing to save the planet from global warming; instead, it has merely launched a corporate greenwashing exercise based on meaningless slogans such as “zero emissions by 2050”.
As the pandemic recedes from public consciousness, the left will need to reclaim the streets and rebuild to once again bring 10s of 1000s of people onto the street to demand action to halt the climate emergency, to say “No war with China,” and to fight for workers’ rights.
Stopping the far-right and fascists is just the first step.
The first large mobilisation of climate activists in Melbourne took place on Saturday 6 November. After an 18 month absence from the streets due to COVID restrictions, Students for Climate Action joined in the global protests against the greenwashing occurring at the COP26 conference in Glasgow.
Speakers pointed out that the Glasgow conference was a COPOUT and climate criminals like Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison were able to spin the lie that they would reach net zero by 2050.
Net zero is a con. It is simply a process for ignoring the rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by pretending that they can be ‘offset’ by gerrymandering the figures, under reporting emissions, and maintaining the lie that it is our lifestyle – rather than their polluting industries – is the main cause of global warming and environmental collapse.
We were on the streets to show that it is our action that can stop climate destruction and that system change – the end of capitalism – is the only chance we have to save the planet.
Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when one of the government’s favoured Accredited Stenographer®™’s Phil Coorey described Twitter as Australia’s political sewer and his pal Chris Uhlmann took great delight in calling people like us ‘sewer rats’?
Well, you won’t be surprised to know that both of these fine and well-credentialed apologists are not really all that good at political geography.
As it turns out, what we’ve learned over the past few months is that the real political sewer runs deep and wide through the corridors of power.
The waste treatment plant of this system of pipes, tunnels and odure-filled trenches is actually situated on a hilltop inside the Parliamentary Circle. It is the political
heart toilet cubicle of our nation’s capital.
Over recent weeks, we’ve all seen how totally dysfunctional this poo-processing facility is. Some of us—in fact many of us—have been saying for some time that the Morrison government stinks but now nobody can deny the rising stench emanating from the grease traps of Canberra.
You don’t need me to tell you about all of the scandals, the corruption, the self-serving, insider trading, treachery and dirty double-dealing. IA has been covering it for ages, but let’s just recap some of the highlights.
All of this was common knowledge well before Louise Milligan pricked the Canberra Bubble on 4 Corners back in November 2020.
Since then, we’ve learned of the severely problematic, brutal and deeply misogynist frat-boy culture inside Parliament House and heard allegations of rape, assault, sex workers smuggled into MPs offices, and debauched ‘solo sex acts’ by a cabal of depraved and privileged young men who think they are born to rule the world via their big swinging dicks.
We—the voters of Australia—are entitled to ask “What the actual fark is going on?”
Well, I haven’t said much about federal politics for a while. I was finishing a book and obsessed with the American election right up until Joe Biden was safely inaugurated at the end of January.
I have been watching closely though, and I have a theory. I suggest you refrain from eating while you read the rest of this piece, I don’t want to be responsible for causing you to gag on your cereal or spit back into your coffee mug.
So, put down the cup, the knife, the fork or spoon…and read on.
If my analogy holds true—that the corridors of power are the national political sewer—then what role does the Prime Minister play in this toxic eco-system?
It’s simple: Scott Morrison is the fatberg blocking the drain.
A fatberg is a giant mass of sludge that solidifies inside the sewer system. It’s mostly composed of grease and dirty cooking oil tipped down kitchen sinks, but they can grow to an enormous size and their contents provide a remarkable insight into the daily habits of everybody who contributes to its mass. The biggest fatbergs can weigh upwards of 100 tonnes and grow to around 80 metres in length.
According to the New York Times, a fatberg forming under the city of London was analysed by scientists a couple of years ago, and they found it contained traces of narcotics, condoms, wet wipes and incontinence pads.
I’m sure a chemical analysis of the Morrison fatberg would reveal similar results.
The major problem with fatbergs is that they clog up a system that’s designed to drain away all the nasties for treatment and recycling. When properly cleaned and decontaminated, waste-water can be safely re-consumed by humans.
There’s not much chance of that happening in Canberra.
When a fatberg blocks the natural drainage system of sewer pipes it backs up and contaminates the whole site.
The Romans invented urban sanitation, and called their first sewer system the Cloaca Maxima. Do you think that if Morrison was a Caesar perhaps he’d choose this as his moniker.
Compared to modern standards, the Roman cloaca was pretty inadequate. It stank and it didn’t really do much for public health or reduce the number of parasites feeding in the putrid waste.
I’m sure all of this sounds familiar.
The Morrison fatberg has pretty much the same effect. All of the waste and its parasites back up right through the corridors of power. The fatberg makes it impossible for them to be drained away.
The results are on display now.
The over-compensated and over-rated cohort of parasitic man-acting boy staffers who teem and squirm in the slime follow their leaders, looking to them for examples of how to behave.
When senior ministers are rewarded for loyalty to the fatberg, rather than exemplary performance of their duties, the parasites learn to mimic their behaviour.
When senior male members of the government indulge in ostentatious, publicly promiscuous sexual charades, and treat their female colleagues as disposable sex toys, the parasites feel emboldened to act the same way.
A fatberg survives by collecting all of the wet wipes, the cum-stained tissues, the discarded roaches, crack pipes and oxycontin packaging, and adhering all this sexual detritus to its swelling torso.
A fatberg attracts the most unsavoury and unflushable lumps of muck to itself. It feeds on the discarded evidence of gluttony and infamy.
A fatberg sees the world as fodder to feed its putrid appetites. This is what Morrison has done this week.
Morrison has this same transactional tunnel vision as a parasite-ridden fatberg. His outburst on Monday (23 March) accusing some Sky News journalists of the vile behaviours he has tacitly condoned among the parasites shows how gluttonous the Prime Minister is.
In April last year a fatberg was pulled out of the sewers under Melbourne’s streets. It was longer than a petrol tanker according to news reports (though no mention of how many Olympic-sized swimming pools it would fill, unfortunately).
The Melbourne fatberg weighed 42 tonnes (a small one by global standards) but it still took nine hours and a couple of giant cranes to remove.
The Morrison fatberg is at least that big, though my guess it’s at least twice the size of the Melbourne giant.
Morrison is wedged into a narrow pipe, deep inside the system and it will take a plumber’s friend of enormous size and power to shift him.
Until we can find plunger that’s up to the job, the backed-up drains on Capital Hill will continue to throw up more toxic sludge, and feed the parasites.
The Romans were apparently wary of connecting their domestic sewer pipes to the Cloaca Maxima because they were afraid of what might crawl out of it to literally bite them on the bum.
The sewers of Rome were also notorious for the emissions of toxic and flammable mephitic gasses that were oxygen depleted but rich in nitrogen. Now we know what it is that keeps the Canberra Bubble inflated.
The Romans also used to wipe their arses with a sponge on a stick and then pass it around.
How long before we hear something similar from the sewers of power?
On Saturday 6 June 2020, over 30,000 people marched in Melbourne in solidarity with people all around the world calling for an end to racialised policing and the murder of people of colour in police custody.
The catalyst for the protests was the murder of George Floyd by four police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Floyd was strangled when an officer kept a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The murder, and many more like it over many years, sparked the biggest civil disobedience in America in nearly 50 years. The response from Trump was to doubledown on the violence.
Australia is not immune. Our own record of Black deaths in custody is appalling. More than 430 deaths since a Royal Commission into the issue was initiated in 1991.
The turnout in Melbourne was really inspring and the government did everything in its power to stop people from attending, warning (for example) that it gathering was a breach of the #COVID-19 regulations on crowd numbers.
As you will see in the photogallery, most people were wearing masks.
There is a pandemic of racist police violence and the march in Melbourne was one small part of a global rebellion against it.
If you enjoy these photos please feel free to download and share.
If you like them a lot, please consider a contribution via PayPal so I can keep documenting protest marches in Melbourne.
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This is an edited version of the original posted on Independent Australia on 13 November 2019
Has lying become the new normal for our elected officials? Dr Martin Hirst argues that events of this week prove it has.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
There’s an old joke about politicians and porkies and it goes like this:
Q: How can you tell if a politician is lying?
A: Their lips are moving.
Once upon a time, we could laugh at a corny joke like that because it was implicitly understood that most politicians were sometimes a little loose with the truth. We knew that they tended to exaggerate their good points and over-egg their opponents’ alleged defects, but we could live with it.
Lying on this level was tolerable because we trusted most politicians to be honest when it came to the big stuff, like budgets and defence spending and taking us into a war halfway around the world.
There was a general acceptance that politicians were genuine, capable and straightforward. We might have voted for the other team, but the consensus was that whoever was in government would generally do a good job and look after the country. We believed in the quaint notion of national stewardship.
But that’s all changed
Lying is the new default position for many politicians. So much so that Scott Morrison has earned the nickname “Liar from the Shire”, at least on social media. Nobody in the MSM has yet had the courage to put this to his face or commit it to the page. We can no longer have an innocent laugh about the truth-defying qualities of our pollies.
In my view, Barnaby Joyce has this week hit the bottom of the lying barrel with a widely quoted statement, made initially on Sky News (of course), claiming that two victims of the fires on the NSW north coast were probably Greens voters:
“I acknowledge that the two people who died were most likely people who voted for the Green party so I am not going to start attacking them, that’s the last thing I want to do.”
See what happened here? Joyce has learned the not-so-subtle art of indirect inference in order to cover his tracks. There is no way he would actually know how the fire victims – Vivian Chaplain and George Nole – actually voted but by couching his statement in terms of probability, he can essentially get away with it.
But, more importantly, there was a bigger, more sinister lie embedded in Joyce’s interview with Sky (which of course became a lead story in the rest of the MSM). He basically blamed the Greens for the lack of hazard reduction backburning over winter.
This alarming claim was, of course, quickly picked up by the Murdoch media and noted intellectual and New York-based columnist Miranda Devine was among the first (but not the last) to repeat this lie as fact and use it as the basis for an anti-Greens opinion piece.
Of course they are. The Greens are not in a position nationally or at a State level to impose any anti backburn policy. Nor do they actually have an anti-hazard reduction policy in any council area where there is an overlap between them holding any power on council and where the fires occurred.
Barnaby’s goal was not to stick to the facts but to make an outrageous and half-credible claim and then let the sympathetic Greek chorus in the Murdoch media amplify and solidify the lie into something that susceptible voters are more likely to accept.
Some images manipulated in photoshop from photographs shot earlier this year.