[Sixth of a series of blog posts about sessions at the Adelaide Festival of Ideas on Saturday 22nd October]
Finally today, John Spoehr looked at South Australia’s future ‘Roads to ruin, pathways to prosperity’.
Again, he bigged up Labor’s response to the GFC, compared the Abbott government’s 2014 budget as a throwback to Fightback (!), the 1990-1993 neoliberalism writ-large of the Hewson Liberal Party (which went on to lose the unloseable election, done slowly by Paul Keating).
Spoehr warned that the ‘personal empowerment’ rhetoric for services was seductive and attractive. He argued that there are alternatives to the current ‘nuclear waste dump to pay for the stuff we want to do’ proposals of the State Government.
He didn’t shie away from the challenges ahead, especially for male full-time employment as major employers shut up shop. If Whyalla’s steel works were to close, it would, for example, be very messy indeed.
He invoked Don Dunstan on the question of ‘we intervene or we sink’.
Anyway, I asked the question I always do – about how social movements can be clever and resilient enough to cope with the inevitable two or thee years down the line political a) ‘fuck off’ or b) ‘yes, we will do what you say’ (followed by broken promises that demoralise further). How can social movements avoid either co-optation or repression?
Spoehr pointed to engaging younger people, the internet, convergences between issues, and predicted that climate change would be a major driver of the next wave of protest over the coming years.
FWIW, it’s something I write a lot about, at a ‘micro’ level, of how the normal ‘rules’ of social movement events (protests, rallies, meetings etc) usually exclude anyone whose face doesn’t fit, who isn’t willing and able to spend ages in boring meetings etc etc. For recent examples about South Australia, see here here and here. Plenty more where that came from, just ask, or google ‘smugosphere’, ‘ego-fodder’ and so on.
In response to another question (on resisting the siren song of ‘personalisation’) he suggested we read the work of Dexter Whitfield…
Dexter Whitfield seminar
Dexter gave a talk on ‘Capitalist dynamics reconfiguring the state: alternatives to privatising public services’ at The University of Nottingham on Wednesday 16 September 2015.
A recording of his talk from the event is available via the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSJG) website.