Saturday, March 22, 2014

"March in March" a step forward

Vanguard April 2014 p. 3

(above: March in March in Melbourne)

After less than five months of the Abbott Liberal-National Coalition government, large numbers of the Australian people have flooded onto the streets to express angry opposition to the policies of neo-liberalism and subservience to big business.

What can we learn from the ‘March in March’ rallies held across Australia (see page 8) and the coming together of wide sections of the people with many different concerns and issues?

Firstly, we learned that many people are not prepared to meekly cop whatever the government dishes out and are not content to sit back and wait for the next election to change things.

They see the value of organised collective action to express their discontent and rejection of the government’s reactionary social policies, their big business agenda of cutting services and attacking workers’ jobs, wages and conditions, their destruction of the environment and vicious persecution of asylum seekers.

The enthusiasm and passion of ordinary people was in stark contrast to the hesitant and defensive attitude of the Labor Party leaders and quite a few Labor-aligned union leaders as well. They were conspicuous by their absence, out of touch and out of step with the masses. But those union leaders, officials, organisers and activists who did attend can hold their heads up.

We also learned that people felt comfortable taking part in an activity that was bigger than a single issue, that they could see a common thread across the many government policies that were harming the Australian people and were happy to unite around many different concerns.

And we learned that the fact that ‘March in March’ was initiated by unaffiliated people mainly through social media meant that there was little formal ‘organisation’ and this allayed some people’s fears of being manipulated or used by this group or that.

To take this movement to the next level, from protest to positive demands that can assist in building a powerful people’s movement for fundamental change – that is the challenge. 

Demands should come from the struggles of the people, independent of parliamentary parties, and be practical and yet provide some vision of a better future.      

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