The Odd Little Lives of the Political Activists

July 2, 2018

Tendrils of coloured smoke float lazily across the sloping lawn in front of the Community House. A drift of tear gas here, a sniff of partly burnt tyre there, the legacy of another rough day on society’s barricades, giving it all for the latest crusade. Scattered over the lawn are the tattered remnants of the day's banners, proclaiming the mindless chant " Whaddawewant – everythink – whendowewanit – now ". The message on the tattered flags is the undying dogma, dating back to the Tolpuddle Martyrs. This message is the siren song which drives the glittering-eyed zealots on their sacred mission, which is to ensure that they, and only them, are the ones who can identify social injustice, cruelty to animals, the ravages of climate change, and, of course, the morphing of society into a multicoloured rabble. 

Staggering in from the daily ideological battleground; another day being outraged; another day pursuing vigorous actions for a cause, however obscure to the rest of us…these are the ‘ activists ‘; the political warriors who prosecute the latest, desperate struggle to save us and our society. After such a day, they fling themselves down on the community couches and stare, dull-eyed, at the walls of the community house. Walls which display posters of Obamacare, Antifa, smirking faces of anonymity masks, some Me Too pussy hats stuck on the wall with blue tack and a mysterious relic of the past - a faded to yellow A3 sheet of Che Guevara's face. This community house is their safe space, where they can slurp their vodka and supermarket orange and chew their way through their vegan pizzas, tofu covered flatbread, hamburgers or fried chicken.  

Generally speaking, in the matters of current affairs and political trends there are  ‘ believers ‘ who carry a deep commitment, almost a faith, in the political or social causes which attract them and more strength to them, they are needed because they participate; they are involved. They are the participants...they do things, they make things happen. 

In our democracies, most members of our communities are strangers to the process of how we organise and elect our leaders. Our Parliaments are criticised, our politicians are ridiculed in pub sessions, but never will you hear a solution offered to address the problems and rarely will you see a positive contribution. As with the crowd in an ancient Roman stadium, they sit on the terraces, watch the show and then go home. And that, of course, is their right. They can do just that as there is nothing wrong with any of that. It is the way that it is. They are the spectators, every society has them, and we need them, they comprise the vast majority of our community, they provide the bulk of our population. 

Without making this all too complicated, we have, in the world of our politics and current affairs, the “ activists ‘, the “ participants ‘ and the “ spectators. “ 

The “ participants “ and the “ spectators “ are of us; they comprise society’s milieu; I mean who can’t love a Collingwood supporter – great spectators! Or who can’t relate to an Olympic Champion – great participants! 

But it is the “ activists “ that grab the attention of the media, both print and electronic; therefore this article examines the motivation and ‘ raison d’etre ‘  of the activists in our community. 

We can, with certainty, assert that empty vessels, when struck, make the loudest noises; an analogy which fairly portrays the “ activists “. 

Now they won’t like that, too bad.  But, “ activists “ are empty vessels, making noises about activities and endeavours in our society which attract their unwanted attention only because it suits their purpose at the time. 

You see, “ activists “ don’t have causes or beliefs, they rarely act positively; their purpose is to break down or destroy what they perceive as social injustice.  

It is not possible to conduct a rational debate with “ activists“, they are not interested in a discussion which may lead to a definite conclusion, their only purpose is the destruction or cessation of a particular activity which they perceive to be wrong. 

Examples float readily to the surface – the live animal export trade is one. This trade is a traditional agricultural activity in Australia. It provides a substantial living for thousands of Australians, not just sheep or cattle farmers:  it has its faults, and it has its problems, no one involved in the industry denies that, but, work is being done and has been done, to address those problems. A rational debate would uncover these positive actions and professional concern…but “ activists “ have seen a film clip of obvious animal distress, a film clip edited to highlight the suffering and create a perception of deliberate or uncaring animal cruelty. 

So for the “ activist “, the perception becomes a reality, and the live animal export trade must be shut down. No thought applies to the immediate effect upon Australians going about legal work; no idea of the impact upon the hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East who depend on this trade for employment and sustenance – none at all. 

Just shut it down. 

There is also predictability about activism that borders upon boring. 

Australia Day – change the flag – no discussion, change the flag! 

Australia Day – invasion day – no discussion, we have witnessed well nourished “ activists “ advocating the destruction of our Nation, because of a wrong, they perceive, committed generations ago. 

Coal Mining – stop the bloody lot! – no discussion, no clarity of thinking – just stop it! 

Global Warming [ Climate Change ] – Nations will drown – we shall all perish [ well that’s inevitable anyway. ] – stop it – stop everything – stop it now! 

So. What is it that drives this stuff? My experience, from long ago exposure to activism, draws me to conclude that most “ activists “ have a rudder problem. They don’t know how to steer themselves through life, and so they draw attention to themselves by outlandish and bizarre activity designed to gain the approval of their peers and the condemnation of the ‘ mob ‘. 

“ Activists “ are determinedly tribal. They need the security of the common environment, and they crave the approval of the tribe. Such is their need for approbation that they will act in increasingly odd ways. Chaining themselves to bulldozers, climbing cranes on building sites, burning National flags, baring their bums at visiting leaders, faking films of industrial or agricultural processes to gain attention, advocating the destruction of ‘ everything ‘.They will desecrate National memorials, establish tent camping sites in public parks and declare the rubbish strewn mess to be an “ embassy“.The list goes on. 

It seems to me that the means of determining successful activist activity is by the level of approval with the tribe, for example, a comment like, “ Wally burnt the bloody flag today and got peppered by eight coppers, fantastic! “ And by the level of anger created in the general community, for example, a comment like, “ Wally pissed off big mobs of people today by burning the flag, it was all over TV tonight, ripper! “ 

And, within the community house, Wally huffs and puffs, strutting proudly about hoping to gain the favours of Xenia, his favourite female “ activist “. 

Political activism does not achieve much, mostly noise and damage. 

Real political change in our democracies came from, and will continue to come from, committed participants and approved, en masse, by the spectators. 

That is how our communities work; the rest is just shonky, noisy, damaging and very odd nonsense. 

 

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