Link Roundup: May 27

Good morning, valued readers. I apologise wholeheartedly for my absence and Flood Media’s general hiatus over the past few weeks. (The picture on this week’s post represents the current state of my mind and body.) Many of us were working our fingers to the bone on the large, increasingly pointless electoral experiment known as the federal election. (Just kidding, I don’t think it’s pointless.) (Or do I? Those questions and more addressed in our upcoming post-election Floodcast.) I then spent the post-election week in a state of collapse and became, for maybe the first time in my life, a genuine lazy person. I have no desire to do anything, and no desire to desire to do anything. It’s amazing! Frankly I could keep living like this for quite some time, but we’ve got links to round up, so let’s make an effort here.

First cab off the ranks - Floodcast contributor and Friend of Me, Maddy, sent me this brilliant, brilliant essay by Alyssa Battistoni about the difficult, dreaded, glorious, life-affirming work of political organising. Very relevant to my current interests and, in fact, our recent Floodcast on doorknocking. To put it succinctly, Battistoni writes about the day-to-day hard slog of doing politics, and how that work comes to stand for something beyond itself. Every paragraph rang true to me, and choosing just one section to quote here is practically impossible. OK, twist my arm.

Organizing relationships can be utopian: at their best, they offer the feminist dream of intimacy outside of romance or family ... Our relationships forged the practical commitments to one another that held the union together. They made us accountable to each other. They were difficult and multifaceted, often frustrating, intensely vulnerable, and potentially transformative but no less prone than any other relationship to carelessness, hurt, and betrayal, and always a lot of work. We were constantly building them and testing their limits, pushing each other harder the closer we got. They had to bear a lot of weight. In more abject moments, I wondered whether they were anything more than instrumental. More often, though, I wondered what was so menacing about usefulness that it threatened to contaminate all else.

I guess we do have to talk about the federal election result at some point, so why not talk about it with Jeff Sparrow in Overland. Sparrow correctly identifies the “gulf between form and content” that ran through the ALP’s campaign, and the fact that “many people simply didn’t believe in Labor’s ‘hugely ambitious agenda’ – or, more exactly, didn’t believe that Labor believed in it.” Unfortunately, it would appear that Operation Learn Nothing is in full swing over at Labor HQ, with soon-to-be-leader Albanese vowing to “end Labor’s class war rhetoric” (lolllllllllll) and Van going full fucking Russiagate rather than acknowledging any wrongdoing on the part of the ALP. Mix in a healthy dose of ‘blame the voters’ and we’ve got the makings of a nice repeat loss in three years’ time. Onwards!

Of course, the always-reliable Piping Shrike has also come through with the goods on the result. I especially enjoyed this boiling hot take: “In the last week, whatever the internal polling was telling it, the party seemed to be turning even more internal. Labor MPs were re-tweeting ‘It’s Time’ memes, clearly targeting the over-65-Whitlam-nostalgic-Liberal-voting demographic, and reached maudlin levels when Penny Wong called on voters to honour Hawke’s legacy after his death by voting Labor—and some commentators seriously thought people might.”

Also, this is what we BEEN saying re: Labor’s disintegrating social base:

This lack of relations with sections of society with the clout to make things happen makes it difficult for Labor to cobble together a genuine reform program and a case for governance today—and is a good part of why we have seen only one majority Labor government in 23 years. The attempt to overcome this by simply making one up, probably never convinced the electorate, and is perhaps why it could not generate the excitement that would offset any scare campaign.

If you haven’t read Elizabeth Humphreys on anti-politics yet, I mean what have you been doing, but also, now is a great time to start. ”Anti-politics is not a left or right phenomenon, but a hatred of the previously dominant political parties and a process whereby parties and projects attempt to capitalise on that. It is not a phenomenon that is only outside the established political parties, but one that also occurs within them.” Gosh, sound familiar?

Reader Tim sent me this piece on the neoliberalisation of electoral politics a few weeks ago, but I was deep in the trenches of #campaignlyfe and did not get around to doing another link roundup until, er, now. Sorry, Tim! Nonetheless, the piece (by an entirely different Tim, journalist Tim Dunlop) is still a cracking good read, covering as it does the neoliberal logic of concepts like “the sensible centre”, and the pernicious role of journalists in upholding these. “The idea that democracy can or should be about different sets of values embodied in a wide range of options, put forward passionately by people who are committed to change rather than comfortable with the status quo, is anathema to many journalists, largely because it displaces them from their position at the centre of political decision making. (Another way of putting this, of course, is to note neoliberalism muffled the class basis of politics and transformed it into marketism, with a managerial elite, including journalists, at its 'centre'.)”

All right, a non-election-related link for you now. Why not! Well, sort of - it’s a link about a different kind of election, the European Elections! Also, the end of Theresa May (finally) and the future for both the UK Tories and the Labour Party. What with all the political hubbub over here I had sort of forgotten about UK politics, but as always, Novara Media breaks it down for us. I listened to this last night and honestly found it relaxing to think about someone else’s problems for a change.

That’s all for this week! It’s good to be back on board with you all. Over the coming weeks we’ll be announcing some exciting new changes to the Flood Media Machine, so stay tuned for those. Also, my weeknight evenings this week will be spent endeavouring to edit the bumper Election Debrief Floodcast that we recorded over the weekend, so that will be piped into your eardrums very shortly. Thanks, as always, for reading. Until next week!

Photo by Hans Eiskonen on Unsplash