Since writing about my concerns over the strong socialist political agenda that bleeds into the same-sex marriage equality cause, I’ve had a lot of feedback, both on the blog and within Facebook.
Overwhelmingly, that feedback has been positive. People across the board are fed up with feeling that a cause important to them is being co-opted by angry extreme-leftists who are using it for their own purposes, or at the very minimum, piggy-backing onto the cause like a rider on a US congress bill.
The feedback from the socialists has been less than positive, and is a timely reminder to us that extremes occur on both sides of politics. We talk about the extreme right quite regularly, but the extreme left can be just as savage. It is, as I’ve mentioned before on other subjects, like a circle – the moderate is at one point in the circle and left/right start swinging out from there. But by the time you hit the extreme left and the extreme right, their way of operating are so close that they’re touching each other on the other side of the circle.
Here’s what one socialist said to me on Facebook yesterday:
“The point socialists make is that all our struggles are linked – because our main enemy is capitalism. It is capitalism that is responsible for homophobia (including the homophobic Australian marriage act and all the anti-gay laws in the US which Obama dragged his feet on until it became clear he would lose the latest election and he needed the gay vote), it is capitalism that kills a gay couple in Gaza (in the latest Zionist outrage), it is capitalism that kills workers on the job – including gay workers. We raise the issue of homophobia at other rallies, we raise the issue of Gaza at other rallies because we see all these struggles are linked. You go round the world and look at all the rallies about “gay” issues and you’ll see lots of issues raised all the time – solidarity it’s called.”
So there’s the rub of it according to that socialist – homophobia is doesn’t have a root cause in small mindedness, religion and bigotry, it stems from capitalism.
Indeed, another in support of socialism said:
“The modern concept of homosexuality didn’t even exist before capitalism!”
Equally, the modern concept of nuclear weapons didn’t exist before aviation, so clearly there’s a causal link there, too. The easiest solution to nuclear proliferation would be the immediate ban of all air travel.
There was the predictable failing to understand the difference between a request for contextual consideration to the topic at hand, and a general attempt to silence differing opinions:
“Apparently Preston wants the socialists to shut up, so that there is more political space for people from the conservative parties.”
There is, of course, a practically immeasurable gap between suggesting a rally should stay on topic to suggesting that elements of the rally should not have a right to express their view in a more general sense.
That person went on to say:
“This would isolate people who have devoted themselves to the movement, but it won’t put an end to ‘partisan politics’ because all politics is partisan, and the marriage issue is intensely political.”
However, the logic of the counter-argument is embedded in the actual argument stated – people will feel shut out. Well, these particular socialists all seem in agreement on the issue of same sex marriage equality, but a lot of other people from other political backgrounds feel shut out and uncomfortable attending rallies and lending support because they see and hear the extreme leftist views attacking them on other issues. That’s the point the above commenter missed – on any individual issue you can have bipartisan support, but you won’t get it if you’re wailing and gnashing your teeth and castigating people on a bunch of other issues as well.
The other ongoing claim from socialists is they have been fighting the GBLTI rights issue for decades now, and so they should be allowed to continue to say what they have to say. This is, without doubt, a specious argument. It’s like a church arguing that because it has claimed to have moral authority for decades or centuries, then it continues to have moral authority and must continue to be above reproach.
No-one is above reproach.
Nothing is above reproach.
No policial agenda is above reproach.
No political party is above reproach.
Indeed, we’ve seen examples of what happens in societies when a political agenda or a political party becomes above reproach. China and the former USSR are two prime examples. Yet, they are both examples of communist states – instantiations of socialist manifestos and agendas.
Under their non-capitalist rule, did the GBLTI community enjoy complete freedom and equality? Of course not. Homosexuality was illegal in the USSR and remains illegal in China. Communist states – socialist states do not support GBLTI rights, and when they collapse the stench of their oppression lingers for decades. In fact, one would be excused for thinking that the only time socialists have historically supported GBLTI rights has been when they’ve been under a capitalist banner and seeking as many supporters to their cause as possible.
Another argument thrown at me yesterday was about the trade unions:
“If we hadn’t had solidarity from the trade unions in the 1970s there would be no anti-discrimination legislation, no protection of gay workers in their jobs.”
I don’t accept the notion of this stemming from the 1970s trade union movement. In many states in Australia homosexuality was still illegal in the 1970s. Indeed, protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation did not exist in Australia until the 1990s, 2 decades after the supposed trade union blessing.
This appeal to the saintly trade unions seems to neglect one of the biggest causes for the ALP only having a conscience vote on same-sex marriage – right-leaning unions:
“On the Right are the so-called ‘short-cons’, seven aligned to the National Union of Workers and 17 from the socially-conservative Shop Assistants’ Union.”
(Crikey, “ALP national conference, left v right showdown on gay marriage“, November 21, 2011.)
Indeed, Joe de Bruyn was quite strong in demanding there be no conscience vote. A unionist.
So I’m not seeing a great picture of the 1970s trade unions. I also don’t have a great memory of them, either.
I remember picking up the phone in the late 70s and being told things like “I’m going to find you and KILL YOU”, of having bricks thrown through the window of our house, of having my mother in tears and my father in a rage so powerful it silenced him. That’s what I know of the trade unions in the 1970s – how they bullied and abused people who broke ranks when their families meant more to them than a cause.
Despite all that, as I said in posts, I’m still a believer that in the correct setting, unions can still do good, and still serve a place in society.
But to claim unions were instrumental in ensuring gay rights? Maybe at some point they played a part, but it doesn’t mean they and their representatives own the cause.
The final complaint that has been levelled at me time and time again is the need for solidarity. Or, as the socialists will usually say it, SOLIDARITY. It’s like a holy grail:
“If you don’t understand the need for solidarity you will fail in every campaign you are involved in.”
Martin Luther King Junior did not inspire a nation to change on the basis of a speech entitled, “I have a dream. And some thoughts about something else. And some strong words about another topic. And firm feelings about another topic. And the need for you to listen and show solidarity on another topic.”
He had a dream.
He had a focused message.
He gave people something to focus on, not a raft of ideas needing a dozen pamphlets and a committee to oversee.
To be perfectly blunt, if we all stood around and refused to take any steps forward on any social issues until such time as all social issues were addressed, we’d still be in the dark ages. Social progress comes in jumps and spurts, and there’s a difference between supporting other causes and insisting that in every situation every cause must get a mention. I was reprimanded by a socialist supporter a couple of months ago when I tried to setup a web site were gays and lesbians who considered themselves second class citizens could tell their stories. Why? Because I wasn’t including other people who may consider themselves to be second class citizens in Australia. The indigenous, those from religions that get a bad rap, and so on. I’m supportive of all those causes, but I don’t have to wear a thousand hats every time I go outside.
Solidarity may sound noble, but the way socialists rant it, it sounds like “Resistance is futile” – solidarity comes only on their turf. From the behaviour I’ve observed, they don’t show solidarity to anything but their own causes. From the behaviour I’ve seen, they don’t show bipartisan solidarity on a cause, they demand everyone else support their notion of solidarity.
Socialists are not our saviours, and we don’t owe them gratitude and license to say whatever they want to say on any topic in perpetuity. In particular, any group of people that claims to speak for a cause or group of people must be, without fail, answerable to the people and the cause they claim to represent. If not, they’re nothing more than parasites, leeching off a cause to espouse their own world-view, using us for our media attention.
If anything the last couple of days has rammed home one very important fact to me – the extreme left can be just as duplicitous and disingenuous in claiming to speak from a moral authority as the right. And we, as citizens, have an obligation to speak up when we see it happen.