Carlo's Corner: Green Left — 25 years old and still useful to McCarthyites everywhere

February 5, 2016
Anthony Albanese's redbaiting of a Greens candidate shows Tony Abbott is not the only politician stuck in the 1950s.

Green Left Weekly is marking its 25th anniversary this week, which is a truly remarkable achievement for an independent paper without corporate funding — and one that could not be achieved without a lot of hard work over many years by more people than could be named.

But if we really had to name one key suppporter, it would be hard to go past The Australian's Gerard Henderson as one of the most dedicated promoters of Green Left's good work.

It is hard to overstate the value of Henderson and others at Rupert Murdoch's The Australian in repeatedly referencing Green Left as the key example of everything they despise. Its stock insult to anyone leaning slightly to the left of Murdoch — that they “sound like Green Left Weekly” — has been a never ceasing source of inspiration.

The most recent example came on February 1, when the Australian's James Jeffrey sought to attack the Greens candidate for the Sydney seat of Grayndler Jim Casey by pointing out that Casey had been quoted in Green Left way back in 2000.

Yes, the fire-fighter and trade unionist-turned-Greens candidate got his name in our paper 16 years ago! As scoops go, it isn't quite Watergate, but it does make me think that the Oz has also noted it is our 25th birthday and are replaying our greatest hits to celebrate. It's actually quite thoughtful.

In the Green Left piece, Casey criticised capitalist inequality, and so it was a good catch for the Oz. Because nothing screams “wacko unelectable fruitcake” in the world today like criticising capitalist inequality. I can't think of any candidate for public office anywhere in the world making waves and generating huge enthusiasm by slamming capitalist inequality.

I mean could inequality possibly ever really be of concern to Australian voters when a mere 600 multinationals pay no tax in Australia and the government only wants to raise the GST that adversely hits the poor by 50%?

Of course, The Australian was only echoing the point made by Labor's Grayndler MP Anthony Albanese, who mocked Casey for being a long-standing socialist. This was actually quite interesting, as it proved that Tony Abbott is not the only federal politician still stuck in the 1950s.

It was a strange criticism coming from Anthony “I Just Want to Fight Tories” Albanese, as he is known for his love of renowned socialist folk singer Billy Bragg. But maybe he doesn't really listen to Bragg's words so much as enjoy Bragg's famously melodic singing voice. After all, it's pretty common for fans to be overheard at Bragg concerts saying to each other: “You know, I don't really agree with his strident critique of capitalist exploitation, but that glorious voice is just so irresistible!”

But on grounds of “electability” alone, the “socialism” card is a fair enough point to raise. After all, where in the world is any self-described socialist politician making any ground? It is pretty much impossible to think of a single case.

I mean, hell, even the British Labour Party dropped its socialist objective back in the '90s. Could you imagine anything as unlikely as a proud self-declared socialist with decades of experience campaigning against the injustices of capitalism being elected Labour's leader on a huge groundswell of anger at the status quo?

Let alone in a place like the United States! There, the word “socialist” is just poison, and no wonder when you consider how well the majority are doing in capitalism's heartland!

Just look at how successful capitalism has been in providing US people with homes, quality healthcare, civil liberties, peace and quality drinking water for absolutely everyone from the White House to a town like, say, Flint, Michigan. Any candidate for public office in the US who called themselves a “socialist” would just be laughed off the stage.

No, there can be little doubt Albanese has his finger on the pulse here. It may be the 21st century, but red-baiting rhetoric cribbed from a 1951 speech by Sir Robert Menzies is absolutely where it is at.

Stiil, should Albanese's response to Casey not work and he loses his seat, The Australian is bound to have a use for such high-quality redbaiting.

As for Green Left after 25 years, you can look around the world and decide whether its ecosocialist politics are still relevant. But no paper so religiously read by the quality journalists at the The Australian can be all bad.

[You can support Green Left by taking out a subscription to Green Left Weekly. You can donate to the 2016 Fighting Fund here.]

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