I couldn’t have agreed more wholeheartedly with the topic of the meeting that led inquisitive me to go and check out a recent meeting with the Australian Socialist Alternative, here in Brisbane at QUT’s Garden’s Point campus. A nationwide “movement”, their moniker of “The world needs a revolution in order to change” is one that i couldn’t have agreed with more. Unfortunately for me (and the “working class” that they are trying to stand up for) this was where the similarities in our thinking began, and abruptly ended.
Entering the room – clearly a new face – i was immediately swooped upon by a couple of the group’s eager members (one of which was later to chair the meeting) and asked as to why i chose to attend. Apparently though, my ideals for a social revolution – a massive paradigm shift away from a system of growth and consumption, and towards sustainability through communal living and the self-production of goods and other essential needs, in order to become more self-sufficient – couldn’t have been more “right-wing”.
See, these people are those that have been pushed to the fringes of society: Fat or gay (or both) or socially inept, this “revolutionary” meeting could only draw slightly more than a dozen people (who all knew each other on a first name basis) and simply served as a sounding board for these bigoted, jaded, self-righteous, right-wing prejudiced misfits to voice their anguish over a system that they are struggling in, and which they will blame for their failings in life. As long as it’s not left-wing, it must be wrong.
Dont get me wrong – im as anti-capitalist as they are – but to suggest that sustainability (on any level – personal, commercial or industrial) is a “right-wing” idea, and that suggesting that as users in a system we disagree with, we fight against it by abstaining from it (by growing our own food, or using less water or electricity, and therefore contributing less, while decreasing the cost on the earth) is “lowering their standard of living” (i quote directly from the young, slovenly lady who immediately began debating the point with me) seems completely hypocritical to me, and is impossible to understand or even justify.
As i spent a lip-biting hour (lip-biting in order to prevent me from speaking up and making no doubt abrasive comments that would have hurt these “revolutionaries”) taking everything in they had to say for themselves, and listening to a particularly jaded speaker throw around educated, thoughtful and insightful terms in his inspirational call-to-arms (i hope you understand my sarcasm) like “right-wing turd” and “capitalist shitheads”, i realised that contradiction and prejudice was the only alternative that these closed-minded Marxists had to offer.
Surely, using less electricity (for example) and having a few vegetables in your back garden you could eat from time to time (for example) or some chickens laying eggs, would increase your standard of living? Surely, if you didn’t have to pay the exorbitant prices they charge in shops, if you limited your store-purchasing which requires transportation, packaging, fuel etc – you would be saving money in the long run, and also saving the very earth from which these goods or services rely upon, while not contributing to a system that you so wholeheartedly (to the point of pure prejudice) are against? But that isn’t the “Socialist Alternative” way. – They just want it easy (“Yes! We do want a comfortable life” one of the speakers even cried out defiantly, in solidarity with his fellow lazy, whining comrades) because they think that all these “rich pricks” have it easy too.
Completely jaded by life itself, they want all of the things that capitalism proffers and consumes, and has slowly but surely taught us that we all need – wealth, material possessions, a car to pollute with and limitless supplies of unenvironmentally friendly food – without actually doing anything more than whingeing and complaining for it. “Lowering your standard of living” actually means, not having all the things that capitalism says we want, and that we want as well.
What’s more, is the fact that they ignore the possibility that, under their system – so noble and fair, with its equal distribution of wealth, and rights for the working classes (i didn’t realise that we still honoured a “class” system in the 21st century?) – the decline of the earth’s resources and the state of the world itself, will still be just as rapid and catastrophic, as the capitalist, growth and consumption driven, “free-market” system. And we’re back to square one again – or worse still, left with nothing.
On and on they went though. Strong in their desire to share in the world’s wealth as the “working class”, but completely ignorant to the idea that this wealth is created through the consumption of finite resources, in a finite world (a “right-wing” idea, mind you). Each taking turns to stand up and speak in solidarity, as i sat staring into the floor, or scribbling down notes to myself as their abjections filled my head with disbelief.
Just how they will get the fruits of everyone else’s labour, is truly beyond me. Perhaps looting will be their solution – where one speaker in his opening speech, talked in disgust at how “the government in Chilé was trying to stop the people from taking what they needed to survive!” speaking of the Chiléan authorities, cracking down on looters in the street. I thought they were just trying to make sure that everyone got their slice of the pie? – Isn’t that what you want? Confused, contradictory and bigoted, the only alternative these people are offering, is whatever is the exact opposite to what already exists. Purely, it seems, just because it’s the other extreme. How they are going to achieve this (aside from just complaining, whingeing and whining) id like to see.
The Australian Socialist Alternative is just that. – It’s an alternative to taking real action on the course of your life, in a world where resources are being depleted at alarming rates. It’s an alternative to actually doing something, where you can strive to achieve your noble aims to liberate humanity by just complaining, and quoting ambiguously to unite your comrades in solidarity (“aboriginals make up the majority of innmates in our prison system!”). An alternative, where growth continues – and they demand a share in it – as though the earth is an infinite supply of everything we need in order for our race to survive, where lessening this strain on our world would be “lowering our living standards”, “making us pay for capitalism’s mistakes” or a “right-wing idea”. It just so happens that this current race of humanity that we live in, is also declining at the fastest rate of any human species before us. These people clearly don’t have the solution to save us. Now though, my opposition must surely mean that im a “right-wing turd”.