There were protests in Melbourne this week, principally motivated by opposition to the technocratic pandemic bill proposed by the Andrews government, a proposed law with significant overreach, no sunset clause, no effective oversight by the Parliament (indeed, it represents an abdication of the Parliament’s duties), and limited (if any) right of review to the courts.
From what little I have gathered about it, there was a bit of a carnival atmosphere about the protests (we do miss our Moomba). Clown World have placed some considerable and interesting material on their page (aside from alluding to my recent mention of Julien Benda’s writings in this blog):
More seriously, there has been quite a lot of faux outrage and hypocrisy by apologists for the Andrews Government, particularly around bandying accusations of fascism around at people who are protesting against technocratic government policies.
Let me start by saying that I consider the use of accusations of ‘fascism’ in political argument as signs of either ignorance or immaturity by those who wield such terms. I recently was in a conversation with a fairly articulate (and therefore presumably intelligent) union organiser who spoke of opposition to capitalism and fascism in the same sentence. That did not really help her credibility.
Most people who are protesting are exercising their right of freedom of expression against some quite objectionable laws and repressive measures by a technocratic government. There is nothing illegitimate about protesting such appalling laws.
Yet they are being accused of being loonies or fascists, and herein lies a significant degree of hypocrisy on the part of the active ‘left’.
Take for example the use of placards featuring pictures of Daniel Andrews with a Hitler moustache. This has been subject to very loud howls of indignation.
Whilst parallels between the technocrat Daniel Andrews and the genocidal Hitler are excessive, and of course, extremely childish (ad hominem attacks of this nature are always a poor substitute for a rational argument), the degree of outrage against these placards is extremely hypocritical, given the eagerness of leftists to use such imagery and accusations against those they disagree with.
Take for example Melbourne during the 1990s, when Jeff Kennett was premier. His most unpopular policies involved necessary tax hikes and drastic cuts in government spending – necessary because of significant mismanagement by his predecessors.
Not only did this result in protests against his newly elected government within six weeks of his election (suggesting a contempt by those who organised such protests for the democratic process), but in the use of images of Kennett as Hitler. There was a novelty store in either Lygon Street or Brunswick Street which proudly featured in the front window plastic busts of Kennett with a Hitler moustache. Where was the outrage against that? I presume the people indignant at the portrayal of Premier Andrews in that guise would not have been offended by Kennett’s similar portrayal.
I believe that the right to protest is one which people are entitled to regardless of what they believe. During the past 18 months of repression of the right to protest, some people expressed the view to me that because the people protesting against the lockdowns or other measures were not the sort of people who protested against Australia Day, or in BLM marches, or climate change rallies, that somehow, their right to protest was less than (or inferior to, perhaps) those who protested for progressive causes. This is not so. A healthy democracy requires that all people who feel strongly about a cause should be able to peacefully protest in public without repression by the police.