Anti-Vaxers, Racists and Fascists

Two left groups in Brisbane (Socialist Alternative & Anarchist Communists Meanjin) have joined forces to oppose the far right over vaccination against Covid-19. While it is true that the right is on the move worldwide, it is hard to see how the tactics followed by the far right groups are going to be successful here in Australia. They were easily contained by public opinion in Melbourne recently when anti-vaxxers challenged the state government over compulsory mask wearing and lockdowns. Their strategy of mass protest over a single issue (in this case, anti-vax) never worked for the left so why would it work for the far right?

To this people may say the 100,000 who marched in Melbourne in 1970 against the Vietnam War led to Australia’s withdrawal in 1972. This is not true. It was the Vietnamese people who defeated the United States and its allies (including Australia) during that war (from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975). It was not really the Vietnam War, it was the United States War on Indochnia (including the secret war against the people of Cambodia and Laos).

There is an element of opportunism in the current round of protests, on both sides, left and right … The strategy behind it is recruitment to political groups, often in contest with each other, on the fringes rather than building a mass movement in solidarity with working class organisations. These groups are desperate because of the disillusionment of people about politics, both left and right.

Who are the people most affected by racism? You won’t see the mass of aboriginal people or Muslims at these protests. Being anti-vax is not a political stance, it is a challenge to common sense combined with a lack of understanding of the way humans respond to this virus (and others).

Anti-fa in Meanjin (Brisbane)?

Were the protests in 1990s to stop Pauline Hanson successful? On one level, perhaps. But on an organisational level they were a failure. For example one of the left-wing groups (International Socialists ) that were behind those protests no longer exists. The Freedom Rallies this week have been quite large, so it is not a good idea to leave activists isolated in the face of right wing thugs. In some ways the right is in a contest for the leadership of the working class in Australia. The Left is currently far too small to challenge that. The unions, on the other hand, still have sufficient organsiation and membership to stop the far right.

I have read the article Why the Left should confront the Anti-Vax Far-Right. The ‘Si Vax‘ article does not address concerns about left-wing opportunism.

We post here a discussion on 4ZZZ (fm 102.1) on the Workers Power show views as to why a campaign against the far right is necessary.

Lets be clear about one thing. One of the reasons that the anti-vaxers can stage their protests is because the democratic rights movement made it possible for them to assemble and march in Brisbane’s streets. That is down to a generation of people who defied a right-wing government, were arrested in their thousands, thrown in the watchouse and some in jail, when they speak of freedom, you won’t hear them acknowledge that … ordinary people, their unions, activists gave up their freedom and jobs so that this generation has the protection of the Queensland Peaceful Assemblies Act 1992.

Ian Curr,
20 Nov 2021

Reference
Why the Left should confront the Anti-Vax Far-Right

Anti-Vax Movement

Jackson (Workers Power 4ZZZ)
You’re listening to workers power on four triple Zed with Jackson and Dan. And we have two guests with us today. We still have Duncan Hart from the last interview. But we’re also joined by his Iswed Tiggjand from Anarchist Communists Meanjin. And they are here to talk to us about the organizing to counter the counter anti the anti Vax movement here in Brisbane Meanjin. So would you like to introduce yourself?

Iswed Tiggjan, (Anarchist Communists Meanjin)
Yeah, hi everyone. So I’m Iswed, a member of anarchist communists meanjin. I come on here pretty frequently. So most people probably only need to hear that but I’m excited to be on and talking about this today.

Jackson (Workers Power 4ZZZ)
And yourself again for any new listeners.

Duncan Hart  (Socialist Alternative)
Yeah, well, my name is Duncan and I’m I guess I didn’t say in the last section anyway, but I’m from Socialist Alternative.

Jackson (Workers Power 4ZZZ)
Cool. So do you want to let us know What we’re why you’re here to talk to us today is

Iswed Tiggjan, (Anarchist Communists Meanjin)

Yeah, broadly, I think here to discuss a bit about like this anti Vax movement, kind of how it formed. And you know why it’s very relevant for the working class to start pushing back against it. And then to just promo rally that is being put on on the 20th of November to counter one of these, you know, Freedom rallies by the people’s revolution type nonsense that we’re seeing.

Jackson (Workers Power 4ZZZ)

So why does this, why does the anti Vax movement need countering?

Iswed Tiggjan, (Anarchist Communists Meanjin)

Well, I think, um, you know, like, we call it like this anti-Vax movement thing. And that’s kind of like, you know, treated as broad kind of nebulous, like, movement of people. And to an extent it is, like, it’s a very swampy thing in a lot of ways. But in reality, when you look at it, you look at the people organizing it, and you look at the people that are trying to capitalize from it. And it’s essentially just a menagerie of the far right, that are trying to capitalize on the social fissures that COVID has kind of brought up in order to like, build their power and build their capacity and recruit and all of that, which I think for any anarchist, or socialist, or leftists, in general, is a pretty, you know, concerning thing that you don’t really want to see, keep going. Like, particularly because we’re getting to the point now where you’re starting to see this movement, like actually, like attack, things like the ??? office, you know, COVID testing places have been, like, attacked by people. So like, we’re actually starting to see like, the working class being, like attacked on the ground. And yeah, like, when you look at the rallies, like, you know, you’ve got this whole just wide range of the far right, that are there and using it like, you’ve got proud boys, ultra conservatives, one nation, the United Australia Party, you like conspiracy theory hippies. There’s a lot of Christian fundamentalists there. And even just like straight up very open, like fascist elements. And they’re all like, just united by this, like, far right hyper individualist stance. And, you know, the mostly mobilizing, and these calls of like freedom, which, like from coming from these people’s mouths mean, absolutely nothing, like the far right doesn’t give a hoot about anyone’s freedom at all. But they see that this is an opportunity for them to get on the street and get their message out there. And they’ve done this in a smart way, compared to say a number of years ago, when probably Reclaim Australia was the last big time the far right was doing this. But then they were doing it on a very obviously racist and Far Right platform. Whereas with this kind of movement, they can do it in a kind of more hidden manner. And just use this kind of like, generally far right thing as cover to push all these other messages.

Jackson (Workers Power 4ZZZ)
Do you have anything to add? Yeah,

Duncan Hart  (Socialist Alternative)

I think that’s I think, I think Iswed Tiggjand is absolutely right there. I think it’s important to say that there’s far right people both like involved in absolutely cohereing this movement, but it’s also, I guess, I’d say like maybe it’s an maybe it’s an element for listeners that people should also identify the, the actual, like, call to be like against vaccinations as right wing in and of itself. So like Andrew mentioned it or call it like hyper individualist. I think that’s absolutely right. Like we’re seeing in the United States in particular. It’s kind of like, it sort of like, leans into a libertarian view, right? You know, my body, their slogan was literally ‘my body, my choice’, a disgraceful usage of that slogan. But it reflects that this idea of like, I’ve got mine and like everybody else, like, I don’t have any responsibilities to society. I don’t want to get vaccinated. I don’t think it’s a problem. So why should I have to, but actually, you know, we know the reality is, this is a very infectious disease that’s killed millions of people around the world. And we’re seeing, we’re seeing the impact of this kind of like, ideology, and these politics actually play out right now in America, where, you know, they cannot even get their vaccination rate above, both, like 66% of the population because there’s so much pushback from particularly like this more libertarian, right wing, you know, Trump inspired  QAnon uninspired sometimes politics, you know, based around like the Republican states. So I think that’s, that’s important to say, because we might not be looking at a politics of definitely is totally connected up with all these, you know, old school, old school racists and like white supremacist, but it’s also in and of itself, I think we should see that these politics are right wing because they’re actually saying basically fucky to society, thank you to the vulnerable people fucky to you know, people who have got disabilities, pre existing conditions, indigenous people, that kind of thing. It’s just worth pointing out that like in the UK, 58% of the people have died from COVID. And it’s like, you know, over 100,000 people have died. They were people with preexisting conditions, I people with like disabilities, chronic conditions. So that’s the kind of people these people, the anti vaxxers are basically saying we don’t give a fuck about. So that’s I think that’s important argument as well,

Dan 
it’s it’s been interesting to watch the language swap between the left and the right with these kinds of issues is the right is using language that the left was using a decade ago. And it seems to be a complete reversal. And a little litmus test I like to use is, are they talking about their individual personal rights? Or are they talking about the most vulnerable members of our community. So that’s it, it’s a big, big one for me.

Iswed Tiggjan, (Anarchist Communists Meanjin)

I think like just looking at the demands that they put forward as a good way to like, identify what kind of like class interests and stuff this Movement represents. Like, you know, they’re often painting themselves as like a were for the working class, we’re doing this because this is bad for the working class and whatever. And you know, it is true that COVID, and has been terrible for the working class. And the government’s response hasn’t been good enough for the working class. But these people aren’t putting forward demands like increasing the rate of welfare, above the poverty line, or guaranteeing full income for anybody that can’t work because of COVID, or anything, like any demands that would actually improve the conditions of the working class. Instead, all the demands, demands that purely would benefit. bourgeois and petite bourgeois elements, like capitalists, you know, like just opening the borders up doing all of this stuff. And like, you can see that being pushed by, like, you know, Clive Palmer, in the United Australia Party, who, like, net wealth has gone up by like, 150%, over COVID. So they’re using these things of like freedom and stuff to mask the fact that they are putting forward demands that do not benefit the working class in any sense. And a really like antithesis to any working class politics, because it completely like, you know, gets rid of any ideas of solidarity or class struggle or anything like that. Yeah.

Another Speaker ?

So one thing is suffering, building solutions, and how do we do ourselves out of this hole is how can we counter this fear mongering, fear mongering and provide workers with a real message of solidarity?

Duncan Hart  (Socialist Alternative)

Well, I think that’s the I think that’s the challenge for the felt like, you know, the left is a relatively small in Australia, so we can’t hope to like, pose all the alternatives in the sense of like, what actually needs to happen, you know, like we got, what do we actually need to do to make sure that the pandemic doesn’t rage out of control and kill people, as well as like, throw people out of work and that kind of thing. But I think, what what Andrew said, and what we’ve said so far, which is like that these people are not offering us a positive solution, are they actually trying to harness some discontent, and basically use it in the interests of like, will end up being in the interests of the rich and powerful because they can have a society where we accept that people should die for our supposed freedom. I think that’s, that’s one thing. So making sure countering their message. And then I suppose the other thing that we’re trying to argue for is that we should also like, physically counter them in the sense of attend, actually attended demonstration and like, put forward a point of view that says, actually calls them out. But I guess like, you know, I do think there’s a role to play as well for trying to fight for like our institutions, the unions are working class institutions were part of to try to adopt better positions that aren’t just like, knee jerk reactions to I don’t want to get vaccinated, but actually are putting forward my perspectives around things like how can we actually have a society which doesn’t where people pinks post the virus, like prioritizing, like health and safety at work, rather than buy into the narrative of the far right, which is all about fucking personal freedoms, supposedly, so don’t get a bloody vaccine. So I think that’s, that’s two sides to it.

Dan 

But yeah, I think like, you know, ideally, yeah, the unions would have done much better on this, and the left would have been able to push for a lot more. Even like I know, in Italy, they had a similar event happened there. It’s like what happened in the CMFEU down in Melbourne. And a week later, they had 100,000 person, march through Rome, organized by the unions, you know, making it very clear that like, we won’t stand for this, and we will fight back. The unions in Australia. You know, that didn’t happen. I think we saw some put out some statements and things like that. And overall, just the unions themselves have been very wishy washy, when it comes to like questions of vaccines, like I think, you know, better union movement, or stronger union movement, or a rank and file led union movement, you would have seen votes being made by the rank and file saying we vote for vaccine mandates. We want all of our members to get vaccinated, because this is based on the idea of solidarity. And then I think that would have, you know, cut the legs off a lot of the stuff that we’re seeing. And I think like, yeah, like Duncan said, like, counter demo-ing is like an important part like getting this narrative out there. Making a scene because like, otherwise, this massive, massive minority of people really that is the people like this anti Vax movement, like it’s very small, it seems bigger than it is in reality, I think. So like showing that as important, and also just in everyone’s day to day lives, talking to the people around them about the importance of solidarity, like, you know, there are a lot of people that aren’t pure anti vaxxers, but a vaccine hesitant and stuff like that. So whether that’s colleagues, friends, or anything like that, just being really clear, like, you know, get vaccinated, you know, it’s safe. And this is about looking after, like everyone in our community. So I think it’s important for people to like, not be quiet. When kind of confronted with stuff like this, whether that’s a vaccine hesitant person, or someone that’s like, going full down the rabbit hole, like, these things should be called out and discussed and made it clear that like, look, the rest of society is acting in solidarity with each other. So you should as well.

Jackson (Workers Power 4ZZZ)

Great. So you too, and the organizations, you’re a part of have your fair share of disagreements and even some animosity, but you have come together for this campaign this protest, why have you done that?

Iswed Tiggjan, (Anarchist Communists Meanjin)

So, you know, all of the various socialist organizations and left tendencies and stuff like that are always going to have big, big disagreements, you know, fundamentally, most of those disagreements stem from different ideas about how to change the world. But I don’t think that necessarily correlates to animosity. At all, like sometimes, you know, particularly if you go on like a Facebook comments section, or whatever, there’ll be a lot of animosity from people that identify in various ways. But I think as a general rule, the various people that are actually in organizations and organizing tend to not have very much animosity, and understand that we have different ideas of how to change the world, which is why we have separate organizations. But when we do have kind of shared aim, and can agree upon how to like reach that aim, then it’s important that we do work together, because like Duncan said, early, like, the left in Australia is very small. So when we can build up those shared interests, you know, we work together and often effectively.

Duncan Hart  (Socialist Alternative)

I agree. I agree with his, um, I think that um, yeah, it’s, uh, I definitely wouldn’t characterize it as animosity. I think the other thing is that we have a shared agreement on like, the actual threats and the the danger that is posed by the anti Vax movement. So that’s an important basis to work together. Like, if we didn’t agree on that, then it’ll be very hard to have any immunity together. But because of that, we can see that we need to try and work out how can we best coordinate? So I guess, like in terms of, do we want to discuss the November 20 rally at all?

Jackson 

yeah, yeah.

Duncan Hart  (Socialist Alternative)

Well, I mean, I think the main, the main point of it is that I can reset the the anti Vax, people have been able to really pull off quite a quite a thing by sort of making the giving off this impression that the only people in society who have got any sort of grievances against the government are these lunatics who essentially are actually really arguing for a more extreme version of what the government itself is putting forward, which is that we shouldn’t take the virus seriously. And we should pretty much open up and end restrictions that save people’s lives. Obviously, the vaccine part the government does want to like us vaccines is like a silver bullet kind of thing. But um, we want to make sure through this kind of protest, that we’re actually making clear that there are people who oppose this, and actually not just any number of people, but the vast majority people in society do not agree with this perspective, which is a tiny, tiny minority that has just been able to essentially get off without too much criticism, really, from anyone in society like they’re most most the main thing we’ve ever heard about why these protests supposedly bad, has been the politicians when they’ve been happening under lockdown saying it’s like spreading the virus. Well, that’s fair enough, in a sense, but also, these people are actually bad in and of themselves. So that’s the thing we haven’t actually heard much about. Their arguments are not, you know, decent, a decent perspective or here fair enough, but actually represent a reactionary argument in our society. So we want to be fighting for like a pro, like prioritizing health message as well as like calling out their connections to the far right.

Jackson (Workers Power 4ZZZ)

Jackson and Dan, and we’re joined in the studio by Iwedd  and Duncan, talking about the counter protest to the anti vaccination movement in Brisbane. You just listened to good little taxpayer by flan. Japanaese. And before that was I wish Australia had its guns again by private function. Alright, so John to tell us, remind us when this protest is where it is what’s going on the?

Duncan Hart  (Socialist Alternative)

Okay, well, it’s um, it says November 20, which is a sad day. Yeah. And it’s actually happening. Like, I guess I’d said it’s happening. Not because we just did like the date, because it’s actually as international Freedom Day Rally. And there’ll be protests kind of protests as well happening across the country. So you don’t be alone in Brisbane. And we’re planning on gathering at 11am. And we don’t have my own percent confirmed like exactly where we’ll be. It’ll be in the Brisbane City, Brisbane CBD. So people want to follow along and make sure they come along to a demonstration, just follow the Facebook page. campaign against racism and fascism Brisbane, which is currently hosting the event.

Jackson 

Great. I don’t have anything else to talk about.

Dan 

Yeah, well, just as a like, aside, like, you know, really recommend people to come along, because it’s important for us to raise our voice on these issues. And to bring it back to like vaccines in general, like, you know, get vaccinated not because the state’s told you so, but because it’s the right thing to do to show solidarity with every other worker, and every vulnerable worker, and everybody that can’t or is vaccinated but still at risk. You know, vaccination is something we’re doing for the entire community. And we don’t need the state to tell us so because that’s what good workers do.

Jackson 

And don’t you don’t even need to make an appointment anymore. There are plenty of walking centers around Brisbane, you can just head in and get one right now if you want to. Great. So that’s No, that’s November 20 11am. In the CBD for that counter protest, make sure you show up if you want to help counter the anti-vaccination movement and

Another Speaker 

once again, we should folks go if they want to find out more information like where this location is.

Duncan Hart  (Socialist Alternative)

campaign against racism and fascism Brisbane Facebook page.

Another Speaker 

Awesome.

Jackson (Workers Power 4ZZZ)

Great. I guess we’ll just go to another song then now that we’re done here. Thanks heaps for coming in. You’re tuned in to the station that’s got your back.

Transcribed by Ian Curr … any mistakes, please let me know in the comments section down below.

__oOo__

Campaign Against Racism and Fascism in Brisbane

The far right is on the rise in Australia and around the world. They are anti-vax and anti-health. They are fighting for the right to spread disease and overwhelm our health system. We must oppose them. Stand with doctors, nurses and frontline workers. Counter protest the far right this:

Saturday November 20, 11am
in King George Square

BRISBANE PROTEST – Oppose the far right anti-vaxxers!

https://facebook.com/events/s/anti-fascist-organising-meetin/469278374753907/

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