So much podcasting and jaw-flapping, so little “this is how we bell the cat”-ting


I get that it is easier and safer to keep saying the cat should wear a bell.

I get that it is easier to celebrate occasions on which the cat didn’t get to kill quite so many mice.


Why are people spending time on creating podcasts, or holding zoom calls with 1000-ish people when it all just celebration of victories over rapacious corporations or complaining that the Australian Government is the handmaiden of the extractive industries? We all know this.

Our situation is desperate. It is in all probability too late to maintain the conditions for tolerable human life on earth (though we have to work as if it isn’t). Is it now not time to do things differently, given fifty years of rampant failure of the information deficit and smugospheric method? But do we have the stomach or the spine for it? (Spoilers- no).

So, the two things. One – On my morning up the hill yomp I listened to a podcast. Here’s pictures of the yomp. Yep, about 6km from the city centre, there are giant hopping rats in the “wild”…

I won’t mention the name of it, but it says its about political strategy (of social movements and unions and stuff). And the episode was about a successful campaign to stamp out zero-hour contracts in a particular industry in a particular country. It was well-made, with clearly a lot of care into it. Various folks were interviewed.

And the basic message was basically “capitalism sucks, and yeah, we gave it a bloody nose. We gave corporations a bloody nose.”

But isn’t capitalism actually (also) a set of social relations? And it’s not clear to me from the blog that they did shift social relations. And there was no reflection on “did we win this effectively, efficiently?” “Did we end up with more capacity than when we went in?” “Did we forge new relationships that we have been able to nurture?” “What did we do wrong?” “Who did we burn out?” “Why did we burn them out?” “The How did we burn them out?” “How do we support those individuals?” “How do we make burnout less likely in future?” “What opportunities did we miss?”

To be clear, I am all in favour of celebration, celebrating victory at the time and telling positive stories of the fact that “we won.”

But what I don’t see the point of, in a podcast that is ostensibly about political strategy in interviewing people, and stitching it all together, doing all that work, and not asking those key questions. I just don’t see the point. And it made me not want to listen to anymore that podcast. And it made me wonder, is there a podcast where these really thorny questions of political strategy are in fact, being hammered out? Because our lords and masters, when they suffer a defeat at our hands, they don’t sink into a despond and wait for the next attack. They figure out what they’re gonna do. They Red Team Blue Team it. I’m not saying they’re invincible. I am saying that they don’t sit around celebrating glory days for the lulz. They do strategy.

Two. I came home, showered and ate. Then I listened to almost an hour of three very well-informed and intelligent people about just how awful Australian government behaviour is on climate change. Since Paris, they’ve UPPED support for more coal, more gas, against a backdrop of over 30 years of active covert and overt shitfuckery.

It was an hour long. After the initial speeches and a number of softball questions from the host, it was over to questions from the audience. A bunch of relatively straightforward ones that invited clever-clever answers, mired in the horse-race politics of it all.. It looked like the most popular question (there was a voting system) was going to be ignored, but at literally the last minute, it got a run. A concise (last sentence cropped especially) of this was asked by the compere

The answers amounted to “don’t vote for the major parties” “we need a new economic system with different rewards” and “we can get rid of the worst of the worst at the ballot box.”

Look, yes. But all of us I am sure agree that

a) we need more than this

b) the panellists are (well) capable of more, if they have the time and the prompts.

c) we have to get beyond the current cosy and easy set up. The planet is fucking on fucking fire.

Watch this space for something on “Public Meeting Syndrome and what to do about it”, which will also kinda sorta apply to this issue (because, when it comes down to it, it’s the same underlying problem – the mice don’t want to risk dissensus and danger in progressing from the need for a bell to the rude mechanics…)

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