Thursday 23 September 2021

Hi-Viz Vengeance On Melbourne’s Streets.

Fuck The Jab! Are all these protesting Melbourne construction workers right? No, of course not. Covid-19 is not a figment of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ imagination. Nor can one help speculating, just a little, that mixed-in with all this working-class fury there might also be a pretty large dose of toxic Aussie masculinity. What is absolutely indisputable, however, is that the ignorance and aggression on display in Melbourne has not materialised overnight, out of thin air.

THE LAST PLACE a young, well-educated, socially-liberal, mask-wearing Melburnian should be found today (22/9/21) is on the streets of downtown Melbourne. All morning, squads of increasingly angry and frustrated riot police have been clashing with groups of even angrier and more frustrated young men – most of them construction workers – protesting furiously against mandatory Covid-19 vaccination, and Labor Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews’ decision to shut down Melbourne’s construction sites for a further two weeks. Anyone looking like a supporter of mandatory vaccination, Andrews, or even the “sell out” CFMEU (the construction workers’ union) who fell into these protesters’ hands would be in for a very hard time indeed.

It is most unlikely that Andrews and his advisers anticipated the explosion of anger that has followed their decision to make vaccination mandatory for construction workers. Pandemic decision-making is driven by the data – which showed a very low vaccination rate among this group of workers. Superficially, their reasoning was sound. By making the jab mandatory, unvaccinated tradies, desperate to get back to work, would be quick to comply. Where was the advantage in resistance?

Unfortunately, reason had nothing to do with it.

In the minds of an alarming number of the young, fit, Aussie males who dominate the Victorian construction industry, the so-called “Covid-19 Pandemic” was a crock of shit: nothing but a smokescreen laid down by the “elites”, whose unholy intention has always been to crush the spirit of hard-working working-class men by robbing them of their freedom. Why else did these high-viz demonstrators make a bee-line for the CFMEU’s headquarters as the protests kicked-off? Because if there’s one institution guaranteed to stand up for a working man’s freedom, then it’s his union. Right?


The CFMEU bosses, also acting reasonably, wanted to get their guys back to work as soon as possible. The building sites had been far too quiet for far too long. The members were running out of money. If the price of getting the construction industry up-and-running again was not objecting to a compulsory jab for all the lazy bastards who’d failed to get one during the weeks of lockdown, then the CFMEU would keep its mouth firmly shut. After all, which freedom was more important? The freedom to be a bloody idiot? Or, the freedom to get out and get earning again? It shouldn’t have been that hard a choice to make!

But it was.

And by the time the union bosses realised that way more blokes than they ever expected were not only refusing to get jabbed, but also blaming the union for not defending their right to say No, it was too late. There were hundreds of them right outside their front door. In vain did they demand the right to be heard. These anti-vax unionists were in no mood for explanations. First they hurled insults, then bottles, then rocks. Pretty soon all the CFMEU officials could hear was the chant every union boss dreads: “You sold us out! You sold us out! You sold us out!”

Sensibly, they retreated. This was something for the cops to sort out.

Well, yeah, usually. But these guys are very different from the middle-class sons and daughters that Melbourne’s finest are usually called upon to police during protests. Very few of those kids are willing to mix it up with the coppers – even if they were capable of such non-verbal communication. Young construction workers on the other hand: blokes who know how to handle themselves; they are a whole different story. What’s more, they’re Australians. Mixing it up with the coppers is as old as Ned Kelly – and practically an obligation. No red-blooded, working-class Aussie is going to run away from the Police – until the shooting starts.

And that’s the problem – isn’t it? The last thing Premier Andrews needs right now are half-a-dozen young construction workers bleeding-out on Flinders Street. What’s more, the protesters know it. The Riot Squad can squirt all the pepper spray, and fire all the rubber bullets it likes, but so long as their numbers hold-up, these protesters aren’t going anywhere. Hell, they’ve even drawn up a batshit crazy list of demands – just like the miners at the Eureka Stockade. And if the cops actually do start shooting? Well, who’s for an irrational revolution?

So, where the bloody hell does that leave the political leadership of Victoria and Australia? Where has all this batshit craziness come from? Best guess? It’s come from nearly forty years of working-class blokes being looked straight through – as if they weren’t there. It’s been born out of the yawning chasm between the people who get the respectful nods, and the people on the receiving end of the contemptuous sneers. Between the classy types who talk knowledgably about good wine and boutique breweries, and the guys who drink the same brand of beer as their dads’. If you shove a whole class out of sight, and make it crystal clear that nobody who matters gives a rat’s arse what they think about anything, then winning their trust when it really, really matters, is bound to be a struggle.

After all, the bosses have been telling them for forty years that all these bad things that keep happening to them cannot be helped. Yes they may be painful, but they are also necessary. And besides, there are no alternatives. That was shit forty years ago, and it’s still shit. So, when the working-class hears the people in charge spewing out the same old rhetoric about painful but necessary adjustments – for the good of all – is it any wonder that the first response of a fair old chunk of them is scepticism?

Especially when there are YouTube videos and Facebook posts telling them that this whole Covid thing is a hoax – just another trick by billionaire vampires to deprive them of what little freedom they have left.

Especially when the “nice” people get to work from home on full pay, while the gates to the city’s building sites remain firmly padlocked.

Are all these protesting construction workers right, then? No, of course not. Covid-19 is not a figment of Daniel Andrews’ imagination. Nor can one help speculating, just a little, that mixed-in with all this working-class fury there might also be a pretty large dose of toxic Aussie masculinity. What is absolutely indisputable, however, is that the ignorance and aggression on display on the streets of Melbourne has not materialised overnight, out of thin air.

As W.H. Auden wrote on the eve of the Second World War:

I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 23 September 2021.


Kat said...

Reports from Australia are suggesting the construction workers protest is a guise for the anti-vaxers and so called freedom fighters to vent in public.

Here is a song for the Aussie chippie:

David George said...

The French are in an almost continuous state of protest; the Gilets jaunes and the farmers don't hold back from letting their thoughts be known - perhaps the Aussies have styled them selves on them.

Not sure that the Aussie construction workers are too hard done by generally with some of the highest wages in the world. Perhaps it's just that contrarian Aussie spirit, they just resent being told what to do. Perhaps they're just fed up with the endless lockdowns, with whole thing. I suspect we'll see some more protests here before we're done.

In NZ the “deadly delta variant” has infected over 1100 people, some got sick, some barely noticed it, one old lady in her nineties (and with multiple co-morbidities) passed away.
Listening to “the podium of truth’s” message to the flock of five million you’d think we were going through a combination of the black plague, Spanish flu, mad cow disease, swine flu, bird flu and Ebola.

Tom Hunter said...

I will simply repeat two key quotes from Angelo Codevilla's 2010 essay, America's Ruling Class, where he writes of the reaction of the public, both GOP and Democrat, to the proposals for rescuing the banking industry

The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one. When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term “political class” came into use.

Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the “ruling class.”

Dan Andrews and the NSW leader, and most of their comrades, are entirely of this class. They know their coffees, their wine, food and the best places to dine. Their agreements vastly outnumber their disagreements. National or NZ Labour, GOP or Democrat, Liberal or Labor (Aus), Christian Democrats or Social Democrats, they are alike. And they are different from those they rule:

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

Just translate that to Australia or Canada or New Zealand. With exceptions for the specifically American aspects, that conflict is also the same, and it's growing worse.

Tom Hunter said...

This great quote from an Australian should not be forgotten either:

The problem with Australians is not that so many of them are descended from convicts, but that so many of them are descended from prison officers”

The Barron said...

I am often reminded of Alan Bleasdale's epic humourous drama 'GBH' (starring Robert Lindsay, Michael Palin and Julie Walters). Bleasdale was able to condemn Thatcher's Britain while satirising the doctrinal left. Most noticeably he showed the use of the rightwing agent provocateur is leading the left to action that would discredit support and leave chaos.

It is without doubt that many of those rioting in Melbourne were infiltrators of various groups unrelated to the Unions. We should always remember that Unions are a democratic body, there is outlet for debate and division. Union action must be supported by the members. While there may have been a number of young and frustrated Union members, it is unlikely they were the organizers or the instigators of the violent direction the 'protests' went.

After all, as Chris notes, the outcome can only be the opposite to the intention. That is, if the object was to return to work (albeit unvaccinated), the State prescribed outcome is shut down. QAnon is girt by sea.

I have previously said on this blog, I believe the Health and Safety Act will lead and determine the NZ employment vaccine mandates. Under the Act, employers have responsibility for the safety of all within the workplace, and workspace. Ryman Health has already realized this. Those that are immune compromised must have a right to the workplace under the Human Rights Act (and various disability strategies), the safety must therefore be set at the level of the most vulnerable. While I understand the Government will be releasing guidelines, it is far more likely that the employers will take the lead to limit liability and the Courts give direction.

Nick J said...

How is it that the PMC (professional middle class) refuse to listen until the riot comes to their suburb? Here's a Swedish tale of woe.

Just to add to Tom and Georges comments you have to wonder why the mouthpieces of our ruling classes retain their legitimacy in the face of mounting evidence that what they tell us doesn't meet emerging evidence. Example, the vaccine was promoted as something that was going to prevent both catching and transmitting the virus. And that it was safe. Now go to the World Health Organisation site and check the reality. And our strategy of vaxing is built around that assumption.

Do we really think that just because they work on building sites that these young men are thick, cant access and process information? Do we really think that they dont understand the concept that their bodies are their own (sovereign) to decide upon? Has the history of the last thirty years done anything that demonstrates to these young men that our leaders are to be trusted without perhaps a little due diligence?

A couple of things disgusted me. First that the trade union leadership thought that they could dictate to the members who pay their wages. Second that they were so fast to sling epithets such as "fascist and thugs".

I'd contend that these young men were not making a stand for a better Utopian virus free future. Rather they were standing up for a lost past that they preferred and could see no reason that they should lose.

Chris Morris said...

As any Google search will tell you, the CFMEU is the Australian version of the Mafia and a major funder of the Labor Party. That is why both organisations were attacked. Anything the union does to help the workers it represents is only secondary to enhancing the riches of their officials.
With the compulsory unionism and union thugs, money is extracted from the workers under duress. And it isn't cheap. From a search, it seems to be $20-40 week, depending on what industry. That is a lot to pay, especially if you are doing contract work.

DS said...

A New Zealand acquaintance of mine has been stuck in Melbourne for the past few months, and he'd make the following points:

- Reports of far-right infiltration are overblown. Most of these guys are actually tradies.
- On the other hand, they are a minority of tradies.
- One valid complaint is that getting a vaccine right now in Melbourne is a very time-consuming process, even if you want one.
- This is not actually about class. Melburnians of all social classes and education levels have views of Covid that New Zealanders would find bizarre.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I think one of the contributors to this – aside from the lies told on social media and the like, is 40 years of social engineering by neoliberal nutcases, who as Margaret Thatcher once said believe that "there is no such thing as society". Well, to paraphrase Thatcher .... The problem with pissing on her grave is you eventually run out of piss. Not original but I think succinctly sums up my attitude towards the woman anyway.

Brendan McNeill said...

Mandating a medical procedure, yeah, that's sure to go down well with the lads regardless of the 'rationale'. And the unions where are they on this? The same place as the NZ Unions, throwing those who fund them under the bus for the sake of expediency.

That's bound to work out well for everyone.

I'm not a big fan of unions, but I'd have thought union bosses might have been closer to the 'heart beat' of their members. But no, port Unions here in NZ and Construction workers unions in Melbourne exist primarily for themselves and not for their members. The rank and file had to find out eventually, and that day has come.

I saw a Maori port worker on TV news the other day (yes I confess to having watched it) he worked for the port of Tauranga for 30 years. Did they support him in his vaccine hesitancy? No. He is about to lose his job if he hasn't already. It's shameful. If the vaccinated are protected what are they fearful of? What risk do the unvaccinated represent to them?

One of the characteristics of totalitarian states is that their 'edicts' make no sense. They are irrational. It took a 'pandemic' to unmask the ugly totalitarian instinct that lies in the heart of our ruling class and their willing vassals.

There are only a few prepared to call it out for what it is.

Nick J said...

It took a 'pandemic' to unmask the ugly totalitarian instinct that lies in the heart of our ruling class and their willing vassals.

At no time since 1981 have I seen us so divided as a nation, even down to families in dispute. At no time since then have I seen fear driving people. Fear of dying from Covid. Fear of the vaccines.

Our PM plays on the Team of 5 million. I'd suggest that she may be a million or more short.

Nick J said...

I'd like to comment about the probability of vaccine passports. Barron quite correctly points out the employers liabilities under the Health and Safety Act.

Having run commercial enterprises it would appear that businesses are in a Catch 22 position. They need staff. Classic example might be resthomes who struggle to find and retain staff. Lets say 20 percent of the staff say no to vax and walk. They have residents so cant shut down, they have H&S plus other statutory requirements. You could force people to work or vax by decree or legislation. Experience of disaffected workers tells me that productivity disappears in 5 seconds.

Lets look at a business who is facing refusing custom to non Vaccine Passport holders. If that is 15 to 20 percent of your turnover gone its a huge problem. Most businesses have set costs they cant easily reduce, those are paid out of margin. As margins shrink by 20 percent, if you were as is very common making 10 percent margin after costs you are out of business. Alternatively businesses could throw staff on the unemployment line or they could ignore decree and serve everybody.

My point is that forcing or coercing vaccine wont work, it will drive us to economic problems and take us down a road to authoritarianism that will divide our society. Vaccine apartheid, back to 1981.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"If the vaccinated are protected what are they fearful of? What risk do the unvaccinated represent to them?"

1.No vaccine is 100% successful.
2. I am not particularly afraid for myself Brendan, but there are people who I do know and love who cannot for various reasons be vaccinated. Some of them are immunocompromised or have other problems, some of them are very young children.
3. One of the problems with right-wing authoritarian regimes is that their "edicts" make absolute sense, in protecting the people in charge, abandoning the ordinary people, and "hurting those they are supposed to hurt".

There was a time Brendan when Christians cared about other people. It seems to have sadly – passed away.

Tom Hunter said...

It is without doubt that many of those rioting in Melbourne were infiltrators of various groups unrelated to the Unions.

Heh. Over in the USA there are countless numbers of Republican voters who believe that the Jan 6 idiots were led on by Antifa infiltrators. Such claims are met with scoffing snark by every Lefty on the Internet.

Reading the above is like switching the percentages of Democrats who believe the 2016 US election was a fraud and Republicans who believe the same about the 2020 election: in both cases it's about 60%.

Tom Hunter said...

"there is no such thing as society"
A fave quote about Thatcher from the Left for forty years now. Here's what she actually said:

I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society?

There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour

Thatcher was making it quite clear that it is wrong to just dump all of us into some great collective called "society" and then blame that or demand things from it in ways that ignore what actually makes a society, which are, whether the Left like it or not, individuals, and that the demands and blame and burdens ultimately fall on them, not this amorphous concept called "society" that buries them as mere cogs in the machine.

Naturally, because it fits the narrative smear, the "quote" has been crafted into an effective soundbite by the Left.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Naturally, because it fits the narrative smear, the "quote" has been crafted into an effective soundbite by the Left."

Well then Tom, as a master of thie sneer and smear, you should appreciate it right? :)

The Barron said...

It has been standard fare for the right to divert any debate with "what about...". It has become tedious.

Tom Hunter said...

"what about..." is the logical result of applying consistent standards, which I admit most people have difficulty with.

greywarbler said...

Reading Tom Hunter who spreads his thoughts widely is interesting. An invisible barrier exists between his thoughts and conjectures and my ponderings and discoveries.

As for Thatcher and her talk of bracing individualism. The Brit Empire has been built on keeping people in their place, and there are classes and groups within classes, it has been well understood and part of the hegemony of the upper class. Individualists who would have come to her notice I think would be the socially and wealthy mobile, rather than acerbic commenters like Bertrand Russell, who was surely a great individualist. However she and Baroness Trumpington were in sync, and she may have been drawn to such a woman who was confident, outspoken and hard working.,_Baroness_Trumpington#Conservative_politics

Notable wealthy individualists often were involved in property. Such as Harry Hyams, a bookmakers son who was wily, determined, smart at what he did like Thatcher, and he amassed money and buildings.

Was this her idea of individualism? And because Hyams spent a lifetime hiding from the Press, famously holding company AGMs at what he considered the most awkward time possible — 4.15 pm on New Year’s Eve — to discourage reporters from attending, many local people only knew his face from the handful of grainy photographs in the public domain. As for the house, the only way to glimpse his magnificent 17th-century pile, which was built by King Charles II’s attorney general, has for years been to walk along a leafy bridleway to a small brick bridge, half a mile away.

Then there were post World War men on the make Peter Rachman and his rack-renting in Brit, and Peter Abeles, who became transport czar and confidante of Bob Hawke in Austalia. These were the individuals who climbed to the top of the pile.
And so it goes -
And -

Bertrand Russell was involved with British idealism and individualism of a sort that Thatcher might parrot but never put time and energy into understanding. I think she could be classified as a sophist as so many of us are. Such as this:

On its political side, the British idealists were largely concerned to refute what they regarded as a brittle and "atomistic" form of individualism, as espoused by e.g. Herbert Spencer. In their view, humans are fundamentally social beings in a manner and to a degree not adequately recognized by Spencer and his followers. The British Idealists did not, however, reify the State in the manner that Hegel apparently did; Green in particular spoke of the individual as the sole locus of value and contended that the State's existence was justified only insofar as it contributed to the realization of value in the lives of individual persons. That last point of 'persons', referring to all citizens not just clever girls at school who 'succeeded' as did Thatcher, would be missed by Thatcher and her followers.

The Barron said...

Most people have problem with your 'applying constant standards' because you are never consitant and the standard is stretched beyond credibility.

You somehow view any action, anywhere, by those you classify as left or progressive as sharing an eponymous ancestry.

You use your crayons to join the dots and suddenly a discussion on NZ (or in this case Melbourne) is discredited because of some obscure piece you can fond from the US, or anywhere else.

I call bullshit.You disagree with writers on the topic at hand and seek to divert to one you wish was the topic.

Consistent standards? It is rarely a related topic.

"What abouts..." coming from the right is diversion not debate