Gestural politics, security and movements. So much for the climate emergency

The short version: I went to a small-ish rally on the steps of parliament house, then navigated intimidatory security to watch… school boys and school girls ignoring the climate emergency.

The longer version: Around sixty people, many aged sixty or more, gathered on the steps of the State Parliament of South Australia at 1.30 today. The aim was to give a shot in the arm to the petition (over 10,000 signatures) calling on state politicians to declare a climate emergency. [The year before last I attended a microcosm of this –  a seaside council not declaring a climate emergency.]

 It was an overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly older crowd (to be fair, it’s a week day) and smaller than similar events I’ve attended over the years.  This, a week after the IPCC’s report came out. Truly we are toast.

Here’s a couple of photos.

I then navigated a seriously absurd security system (including having to give a mobile number – which I don’t have).  The airport scanner thing I can understand, but the taking photos of people and demanding names and phone numbers? That’s pure overreach, a mix of job creation and intimidatory surveillance.

“In these days Napoleon rarely appeared in public, but spent all his time in the farmhouse, which was guarded at each door by fierce-looking dogs. When he did emerge, it was in a ceremonial manner, with an escort of six dogs who closely surrounded him and growled if anyone came too near. Frequently he did not even appear on Sunday mornings, but issued his orders through one of the other pigs, usually Squealer.”

I needn’t have bothered with all that crap.. I arrived in the public gallery as an encomium for a recently-deceased MP was made. Then they suspended things for a few minutes. Then they read out – and I am not making this up – the details of 6 petitions. The “declare a climate emergency… IPCC says we’re toast…” petition, with over 10 thousand signatures, came after a couple about cormorants and a traffic junction, and before one about re-opening a reservoir for swimming. Douglas Adams would not have dared to make it up.

There was then a chance for an MP to try to grab some “glory” by saying how wonderful the South Australian athletes had been at the Olympics.

The deputy leader of the Opposition said she’d be doing something (I didn’t gather what) about the climate petition in late October (presumably tabling it).

Then the Punch and Judy show got going seriously, with so-called “question time.”  The usual preening, heckling and stupid planted questions so that various people could talk about how wonderful they are. Labor were trying to trip up/embarrass the government over an MP who was today found not guilty of basic assault, and on a Federal taxation issue. The Premier played a dead bat on these, and then came alive when he was able to respond to a planted question (a so-called “Dorothy Dixer”). 

I’m used to this, of course, from too many times watching Manchester City Council. It’s degrading, debasing and demoralising there, and it is here.

The Deputy Speaker actually finally got up on his hind-legs and kicked two Labor politicians (including the leader of the opposition) out for repeated heckling and interrupting. It struck me as nothing so different from a teacher sending children to sit on the naughty step.

Nobody paid any attention to the existence of the climate petition and the hard slog that had gone into it. The IPCC report was last week’s soundbite. By now the public gallery had dwindled from fifteen to seven. I left, far too late for my own good, and was followed by another person.

Gestural politics, gestural everything.

So, what’s going on, what’s going wrong?

Well, I have written so many times about the emotacycle, the rituals of rallies and set-piece meetings. I don’t have the stomach to repeat myself right now.

On the gestural security – well, I suppose we should be “grateful” that it is gestural for now. Well, they bring it in piece by piece.  Every little step can be justified of course, in the name of public safety (Robespierre would snort).  The measures are there to remind us peasants that we should be grateful to even be allowed to watch parliament.  (Photography banned. I am not sure what the rationale is).


On gestural politics – well, if you think about all the hoops would-be politicians have to jump through, can you be surprised that the school-boy reactivity and point-scoring dominates?  Join the party, attend boring meetings, stomp on/whiteant rivals in order to get pre-selection, fight a hopeless cause, get pre-selection again, etc etc.  All the time, point scoring, pecking orders, factions, spin, leak, stomp.  If you weren’t a damaged and limited person when you went in, looking for adulation and power, then you will be after a few years. 

And this, this is the mechanism by which we are supposed to take action to avoid a hellscape for future generations?  Yeah, good luck with that.

On the what is to be done – to hell with it – The Cocker Protocol all the way…

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