by Kim Kelly

red flag

COMING TOGETHER AND FALLING APART

Hello. It seems an age since I’ve been here on the blog. A month, actually. I’ve been hunkered down smashing out the first mad draft of a new novel – that Snowy Mountains story I mentioned a couple of months ago – and I finished it just yesterday.

Spies, lies and Cold War treachery, this story wrapped itself around my head and shook me senseless. It took me places I’ve never been before narrative-wise, too, and I’m thrilled to have made it through to the other side.

But today has been another story. While we’ve been blessed here at The Bend with a fabulous fall of snow, a lovely omen for my novel, over the other side of the world, Old Blighty appears to have torn itself asunder in the midsummer sun. I have no particular view on Britain’s exit from the European Union, its pros and cons, and I don’t know the intricacies of the politics, but what has made me sad today is the anger and despair unleashed by the Remainers.

It’s a conundrum, isn’t it, when those who are the loudest champions of democracy are appalled when it doesn’t deliver the result they wanted. There’s been a pretty unedifying display of name-calling from these same left-wing champions decrying all Leavers as ‘idiots’, ‘racists’ and ‘philistines’. Don’t worry, I’ll probably be doing the same thing when the radical-conservative oxymorons sabotage the marriage equality plebiscite here in Australia.

But right now, and more broadly, there’s also been a lot of desperate talk about this event signalling a dangerous shift in the course of history. A backwards shift towards belligerent isolationism, nationalism, fascism. A breaking up of long-held peace in what we think of as the civilised world. That may well be true, too.

It seems to me, though, that there are a few things we can do to try to arrest that slide. First, the tub-thumping middle-class left wing – that is, the traditional representatives of ordinary people – can stop calling ordinary people idiots for being ordinary. The uneducated, the poor, those who can’t afford solar panels and organic produce, can do without being derided by hypocrites deafened by their own clanging self-righteousness. Second, we can start addressing the common enemy: rampant corporate capitalist greed.

Every time we argue and moan among ourselves, the plutocrats grin with their hands in our pockets. A house divided cannot stand, and that is what has happened to the left wing, and to socially responsible democracy. We’d better snap out of it quick, or we might well slip towards a time of greater inequality, violence and grief.

It’s happened before, history repeats and repeats, and it will happen again – unless we decide to stop it. And start asking the question: what do ordinary people really want?

The answers are always pretty simple and familiar. Love. Respect. Dignity. A fair chance. Less shit. I spend my writing life pushing a little barrow spilling with these thoughts, a thousand little red flags of wonder. I will push it until I fall down dead. I’m pushing out a plea tonight to my comrades: now is not the time for feelings of thwarted entitlement and superiority. It’s time to listen.