Saturday, March 25, 2006

We Protest! We Protest!

I was an internet cafe on Lonsdale Street when I started hearing banging noises coming from outside. This is it, Tim, I thought, your time is up: George Bush has finally decided to bomb Australia.
Not true. It turned out to be a long line of little old Chinese grandmothers carrying banners, with a guy in the middle shouting into a megaphone, "End communism now! End communism now!" It's not every day you see an angry mob protesting communism.

The crowd wound its way along Lonsdale Street until they reached Exhibition Street. One dumpy Chinese woman shoved several papers in my hand.* They turned down that, towards the centre of the city. I walked the other way, and a block later, I came upon them walking down Little Bourke Street, through the heart of Chinatown. I was ahead of them this time, looking for some food.

I went on down Swanston Street, pursued - very slowly - by this procession. As I reached the Bourke Street/Swanston Street corner, I was accosted by a bunch of people waving copies of 'The Socialist Worker' and pamphlets on 'The Relevance of Marx'. Great, I thought; I narrowly miss getting mobbed by anti-communist only to fall into the hands of some actual communists.

Still, this presented an interesting opportunity. I decided to stand back and watch how the Marxists would react to the anti-communist protestors.
The protesters continued down through Swanston Street. The crowd stretched out for about as long as two blocks, which meant that they caused a massive tram and car pile-up. Banners bore slogans like, "End Communism, Save Humanity!". "Communism Must End!" "Free China from Communism!" "The CCP must End!" They even had a prop 'victim of communism', artificially strung up in what looked like a hanging apparatus, flanked by two Red Guards in military uniform. The catch phrases they were shouting out became stranger, too: "End the illegal human organ trade!" (So the stories are actually true!)
The guy handing out pamphlets for the Marxists turned around so that his back was to the protestors on the streets and for the next five minutes did his best to ignore them by accosting the crowds coming up Swanston Street, away from the city. A little disappointing, really.

Finally, the protesters had all turned into Bourke Street. With an angry bang, the trams slammed their doors shut and sped down Swanston Street, making up for lost time. I continued on my way, looking for lunch ...

UPDATE! - Here's some interesting advice from that known Trotskyite, Trotsky, regarding the place of women in the communist revolution ...

*It's a Melbourne tradition. If you walk through the centre of the city on a Saturday or a Sunday, you'll meet several groups of people competing to shove pieces of paper on your hand. The strangest one I ever got was an essay on how the CIA or the Scientologists or some group like that have infiltrated the psychiatric profession and are using it to warp all our minds.


beautifulatrocities said...

Hmmm, here in Berkeley one of the chic bumperstickers is FREE TIBET. Does this mean they want George Bush to attack China? I supported the Iraq War, but I'm not so sure about that one

PS Is cricket really the national sport of Oz?? Dire!

TimT said...

It's like the anti-war protesting slogan, 'No War'. What do they mean by that? Is it an order? A demand? Is it a request? Did they even think about it? In the lead up to the Iraq war, two protesters climbed to the top of the Sydney Opera House and painted 'NO WAR' on it in bright red letters. They later tried to claim it as a victory for the anti-war left, but the publicity they got focused on them, rather than on the meaningless slogan (which the state government had managed to clean off later that day).

Cricket certainly is a national Australian sport, along with Australian Football, a game which neither I nor anyone else can claim to understand. It seems to involve lots of running around a grassy oval and kicking balls into goals.

nailpolishblues said...

Aussie rules? You need to have been born and raised in Victoria to vaguely understand and allegedly appreciate that game.

I thought our national sport was putting shit on cricketers who text too much? Oh and ANYTHING that involves beating the Kiwis...

You're right Tim. 'No War' sucked. They had plenty of time to write 'no war in Iraq, it's bullshit, give it two years and we'll provide proof [or not, you didn't why should we?]'. Wait, is the Opera House big enough for that?

Caz said...

Tim - have you picked your AFL team yet?

If you go get a copy of "Up There Gazally" and play it a few dozen times, at high volumne, you should be set for the season - just see if it doesn't give you goose bumps & get the blood pumping!

TimT said...

Caz - I grew up in Balranald. It's a NSW town, but it's about one hundred kilometres from the NSW/Victorian border (Swan Hill). Because of this, it was actually in AFL territory - I didn't even know about rugby until I was about twelve years old, when I started travelling to Robinvale (rugby country!) to take part in a theatre group. I didn't have a team then, and I don't now.
Up There Cazally is a fine tune indeed.

Nails - true. But instead of painting that slogan on the opera house, they could have actually written letters to the paper, hit the streets, handed out pamphlets, talked with people, written articles for magazines and newspapers, tried to persuade pro-war advocates, held arguments, changed some peoples opinions, and maybe even had some of their opinions changed. That might have actually made a difference.

It just seems to me that these two guys were more interested in getting publicity and looking like heroes than changing opinions.

Rachy said...

You know it's funny, I never met a single Communist during my studies at the University of Vilnius. The only communists I have ever met come from "developed" democracies.

I guess the Lithuanians are just selfish, because they didn't really understand what it was to be Communist. Pussies.

Caz said...

Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, you HAVE to have a team, it's not the same if you don't have your heart & soul behind it. And pick a Melbourne team.

Odd comment from you: they were seeking publicity & wanting to be heroic - yeah, of course! Their downfall was painting their slogan on a Sydney "icon". They could have painted it on a Telstra building & no one would have cared; the whole thing would have been viewed & treated somewhat differently.

To be fair, those guys have been suitably punished - sentenced, fined, paid the huge cost of clean up (okay,some fund raising helped them, I think), they lost their jobs, they were pariahs. They were punished far more thoroughly than a lot of child abusers and rapists.

What really pissed me off was that The Wilderness Society, which while not behind the paint-job, did employ both men, yet when the backlash hit the Wilderness folk dropped these guys like two hot bags of doggy doo. I actually thought they were pricks to do that, not least because no-one at any time had suggested that the men had acted other than entirely off their own initiative, so there was no compulsion to sack them.

I remember at the time being astonished that the Wilderness Society still exists, as I hadn't heard anything about them for years. As an organised group they have done far worse things, including endangering lives, over the decades in their fight for forests. I thought they were namby pamby hypocrites over the paint-job incident.

My thoughts.

TimT said...

Your thoughts are good thoughts. I certainly didn't know about The Wilderness Society link.

I always did like the Bombers. But, you know, I'm going to have to think about this one. My pal Dale from my early days in Melbourne (he was the chronic gambler) was a Sydney Swans fan! I would have loved to have seen his face at the end of the grand final ...

Major Anya said...

Well, the CEC are a bit of a hoot.

Strange old blokes and a young woman with the silliest posters ever.

Hilarious and sad.

TimT said...

I saw her! In St Kilda, about nine months ago! She was wandering up and down Acland Street, eyes focused on nothing-in-particular, carrying a big poster of Lyndon la Rouche with the top half of the poster falling over. She was a nutbag!

A couple of days later, my nutter New friend/flatmate came back with CEC pamphlets saying that he'd had a long talk with her!

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